Yesterday and today marks the fifty
first anniversary of the outbreak.
The May 15th
-16th 1968 Tornado outbreak was a significant and deadly
event. The outbreak of Tornadoes affected the states listed below.
This outbreak produced thirty nine Tornadoes from 3:28pm on the 15th May till 2:50am on the 16th May. This included two F5/EF-5 Tornadoes in Iowa1.
1: The first
F5/EF-5 Tornado swept through five counties and sixty five miles. It affected
Charles City just before 5:00pm. This particular Tornado destroyed much of the
area. Damage figures were estimated up to thirty million dollars in Charles
City alone whilst one point five million dollars in damage was recorded
elsewhere. This F5/EF-5 killed thirteen people and injured almost four hundred
and sixty people.
featured photo of this article is that of the F5/EF-5 that struck Charles City –
however the photo was captured two miles southwest of the city by Floyd County
The second F5/EF-5
Tornado affected Fayette County at around 4:57pm. It destroyed or damaged
nearly a thousand homes. The hardest hit areas were Oelwein and Maynard where
homes were completely swept away from their foundations. Five people were
killed by this F5/EF-5 whilst one hundred and sixty were injured.
These were two
of four F5/EF-5 Tornadoes that struck the United States during the year of 1968
– the other two; southwestern Ohio on the 23rd April and Minnesota
on the 13th June. The next and last official F5/EF-5 Tornado that
touched down in Iowa was in Jordan on the 13th June 1976.
The thirty nine
Tornadoes spawned during this outbreak killed seventy two people and caused twelve
hundred injuries. You can find more details on the outbreak here.
The April 2011 super Tornado outbreak was one of the biggest, deadliest and most destructive severe weather and Tornado outbreaks in the U.S. Suffice to say some of a handful of the Tornadoes that touched down during the outbreak struck heavily populated areas.
Regardless of alerts well in
advance and short term warnings, the Tornadoes/storms killed three hundred and
twenty one people and injured almost three thousand people, according to National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA – Storm prediction Center – SPC).
Nearly three hundred and fifty
Tornadoes touched down in around of the south, Midwest and northeast states of
the U.S. A majority of the Tornadoes that touched down during the April 2011 super
outbreak happened on the 27th April, according to the National
The most destructive Tornado, a multiple-vortex EF-4 Tornado, which took the lives of sixty five people and injured more than one thousand people alone swept through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama during the afternoon/evening on the 27th April.
Suffice to say, within a
matter of minutes, ten per cent of Tuscaloosa was destroyed and more than one
thousand six hundred people were left homeless – including the students of
University of Alabama. It has to be said, the above mentioned Tornado was one
point five miles wide with winds of one hundred and ninety miles per hour.
The Tornado was on the ground for more than eighty miles.
It has to be stated: The same
supercell thunderstorm that produced the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Tornado went
onto to spawn other Tornadoes that “skipped” along a three hundred and eighty
mile long path from Mississippi to North Carolina.
Three EF-5 Tornadoes, twelve EF-4
Tornadoes and twenty one EF-3 Tornadoes struck during the April 2011 super
Tornado outbreak. Some of the violent storms coincided areas that were hit with
severe weather and Tornadoes earlier in the month. April 2011 was a busy month!
A destructive and deadly
Tornado outbreak took place on the 14th – 16th April,
when one hundred and seventy eight Tornadoes touched down and resulted in the
deaths of almost fourty people across parts of the Plains, south and eastern
In closing, April 2011 saw a
record seven hundred and fifty Tornadoes strike the U.S, according to the SPC –
records go back to 1950.
We didn’t particularly want to make this a wordy article, however we wanted to give this significant outbreak a well-balanced and detailed introduction. Now you’ve read about it, now relive the April 2011 super outbreak thru the lens of a camera in the videos below.
Find an extensive video playlist of the Hackleburg/Phil Campbell EF5 Tornado below.
Furthermore, TV coverage and documentaries in regards to this outbreak can be found below.
UPDATE: A reader brought it to our attention that Smithville, Mississippi was struck by an EF-5 Tornado on the 27th April 2011 – watch two videos of the Tornado below.
It may be an old video, but it’s a golden one. In the footage below, watch the initial touch down of a Tornado up close in Harrison County, Indiana.
If you look closely, you’ll be able to spot the multiple vortices. The video was captured by a neighbour of Patrick Koch back in 2018.
Koch provided the following description with the video.
“This video was taken by a neighbor on July 20, 2018 around 2 PM. Location is approximately 5 miles south of Corydon, Indiana. Corydon is a small town in Harrison County about 15 miles west of Louisville, Kentucky.
Update: This is the tornado that quickly grew and did major damage to the east after it formed in our subdivision – National Weather Service. “
This record breaking
Tornadic event happened ninety four years ago today.
The Tri-State Tornado is at the moment in time the U.S. record holder for several elements – listed below.
Longest Tornado track – two hundred and nineteen miles (219)*
Most deaths in a single Tornado – six hundred and ninety five (695)
Most injuries in a single Tornado – two thousand and twenty seven (2027)
*The track was originally two hundred and eighteen miles – study by Johns et al. showed seventeen more miles – according to Gabe Garfield.
The below quote from the NWS explains the Tri-State Tornado brilliantly.
“On March 18, 1925, the Great Tri-State Tornado tore across Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and Southwest Indiana. With its rapid movement, monstrous size, and long track, the tornado took hundreds of lives and injured thousands. By all means, the Tri-State Tornado was a rare event—an event that few people will ever experience in their lifetime.”
National Weather Service – Paducah, KY
Whilst this Tornadic event happened before modern time, this particular Tornado is considered to be a F5/EF-5 – on the Fujita/Enhanced Fujita Scale rating.
This deadly Tornado swept through three states – reason why it’s called Tri-State
– tearing through thirteen counties. These counties include: Missouri, Illinois
The Tri-State Tornado tore through nine towns and numerous smaller
villages – significant damage was caused of course.
It’s safe to suggest that track of this Tornado has been lost – due to growth of landscape and human development.
The map (pictured to the left) was produced by Wilson and Changnon in 1971. The illustration to the left seems to provide the most accurate track of this Tornado.
Find a re-created (digitised) copy of above map below – this visualisation was produced by U.S Tornadoes’ James Hyde.
We’re going to leave it there! However, we’re going to point you in the direction of some incredible material on the Tri-State Tornado – links can be found below.