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.
This Tornado was one of many that struck during the Red River Valley Tornado
outbreak of the 10th April 1979…
will be producing a separate article on this outbreak in due course. You can
find more out on the Wichita Falls, Texas (TX) storm itself here.
F4/EF-4 Tornado that struck Wichita Falls, TX formed several miles southwest of
the city in Archer County, travelling over mostly open land.
the Tornado turned east-northeast, it entered Wichita County – damaging a
handful of rural homes, string of high voltage towers.
into the city of Wichita Falls, the Tornado first struck Memorial Stadium and
McNiel Junior High School, severely damaging both buildings (#1 on the damage
path diagram below).
The Tornado’s formation and its movement towards the stadium and high school was captured on camera by Wolfgang Lange from the front of his apartment complex (#2 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.
capturing the last photo of the Tornado, Lange retreated to the complex’s
laundry room and hid between heavy commercial washers and dryers. Luckily, he only
suffered minor injuries.
Northeast of Lange’s apartment complex, on the first street of houses, a man by the name of Robert Molet also captured the Tornado on camera as it approached (#3 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.
Lange’s view, as you can see in the above photos, Molet did not have an unhindered
view of the Tornado – did not immediately recognise the F4/EF-4 wedge.
stood in his backyard driveway and captured the destruction of the above
mentioned apartment complex and the beginning of his neighbourhood being destroyed.
carried on taking photos until the wind blew him into his garage. Although, his
house was completely destroyed, Molet escaped with only minor injuries –
protecting him from the worst of the winds and debris.
first deaths caused by Tornado were recorded at the already mentioned apartment
complex and adjoining housing area.
east-northeast, the Tornado severely damaged commercial buildings along
Southwest Parkway, including total devastation of the Southwest National Bank Building
except its vault (#4 on the damage path diagram).
of Southwest Parkway, the F4/EF-4 wedge destroyed many homes in the Western Hills
(DR). Further eastward, many houses in the Faith Village were destroyed, Ben
Milam Elementary School was severely damaged (#6 on the damage path diagram).
The Tornado was captured on camera from the south of the city by Pat Blacklock – see in the photos below (#5 on the damage path diagram).
As you can see in the last few photos above,
the gust front/strong west winds to the south of the Tornado can be seen
producing waves on Lake Wichita – kicking up spray from the lake.
As the F4/EF-4 wedge crossed Kemp Boulevard, a number of commercial business were destroyed – resulting in several deaths. The Tornado’s most destructive winds missed the Sikes Senter Shopping Mall to the south, but a handful of stores were damaged.
the above mentioned shopping mall, the Tornado crossed a greenbelt area, “skirted”
Midwestern State University on the south side – severely damaging more housing
From the Ligon Coliseum of the University, Professor Joe Henderson captured the Tornado on camera (#7 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.
The F4/EF-4 wedge was also captured on camera by Troy Glover from the roof of the Bethania hospital (#8 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photo below.
number of people tried to outrun the Tornado as it crossed the south side of
the city by getting in vehicles and driving east of Southwest Parkway – north on
US Highway 281 and east on US Highway 287.
Tornado blew many of those vehicles off the above mentioned highways, resulting
in numerous deaths.
F4/EF-4 wedge took the lives of forty two people in Wichita Falls, twenty five
deaths were vehicle related and sixteen of the twenty five deaths got in vehicles
to outrun the Tornado.
leaving the east side of the city, the Tornado destroyed the Sun Valley housing
area, the Sunnyside Heights Mobile Home Park and several large commercial
businesses including the Levi Strauss Plant – iconic jean maker.
of Wichita Falls, the Tornado trekked into Clay County. Not only did it enter a
different county, it changed its appearance.
As seen in the photos below, captured by Winston Wells, the Tornado became multivortex (#10 on the damage path diagram). At one time, the F4/EF-4 wedge displayed as many as five satellite vortices.
this stage of its life, the Tornado did extensive damage just south of Dean and
near Byars, destroying a significant number of rural homes, but thankfully
causing no deaths.
The grief and devastation caused by this Tornado is almost unthinkable
particular type of Tornado event is unheard of! A violent Tornado tearing
through an eight mile section of a city.
addition to the forty two deaths caused directly by the F4/EF-4 wedge, three
more people died of heart attacks/illnesses during the stress of the Tornado’s
life. The number of reported injuries approached almost eighteen hundred
however additional injuries were never recorded.
In 1979 dollars, total property damage
in the city was estimated at four hundred million.
three thousand homes were destroyed and another were damaged. One thousand
apartment units/condominiums were destroyed and another one hundred and thirty
Around one hundred and forty mobile homes were destroyed, two schools were obliterated and eleven others suffered significant damage. Over one hundred commercial businesses were destroyed, some of which were large businesses/manufacturing – including Levi.
That concludes our in-depth overview of the Tornado. Now, relive the Tornado in videos below.
sadness, even though this happened in 2015, his wife and next door neighbour
The Tornado in
this video is the EF-4 that struck Rochelle/Fairdale on the April 2015. Read
our recent article on this Tornado here.
terrifying video below, watch the moment a powerful Tornado destroys a couple’s
house… WHILST HE’S IN IT!!!
As you may have
seen, a message appeared at the start of the video. In case you missed it, you can
read in full below.
“The video was shot by Mr Clarence “Clem”
Schultz from the second story of his home in Fairdale, IL on 9th
April 2015. Though Mr Schultz survived, he had a number of very serious
injuries. Unfortunately, his wife and next door neighbour died in this event.
PLEASE do not attempt to video or take
photos of a Tornado as it approaches your location. Please follow National
Weather Service warning advice: “Move to an interior room on the lowest floor
of a sturdy building and avoid windows.
If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or
outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from
flying debris. It is your life… and your
responsibility to protect it.”
The video was captured by Clem Schultz on the day the Tornado struck – 9th April 2015. It’s suffice to say this video gained a lot of attention.
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.
This happened twenty eight years ago today! A handful of iconic and reconisgeable Tornadoes struck on the 26th April 1991.
The 26th April
started ominously as storms formed across central and western Oklahoma in the early
morning hours which then moved northeast. A Tornado struck Tonkawa, northern
Oklahoma around half an hour after sunrise. These storms moved northeast into
…However these storms weakened
in the late morning hours, but a dry line remained across central Kansas into central
Storms then redeveloped in the
afternoon along the dry line and outbreak of Tornadoes across much of central
and southern Plains happened. Before the outbreak ended, over fifty Tornadoes
had touched down in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska…
…Five violent Tornadoes touched down in southern Kansas and
The most significant/deadliest
Tornado touched down in Wichita, Kansas when an F5 Tornado swept through the
southern and eastern portions of the Wichita metropolitan area – including the
McConnell Air Force Base and the town of Andover.
Four other Tornadoes received the F4 rating in this outbreak, three of these violent Tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma. One Tornado overturned several cars on the Cimarron Turnpike before striking Wesport and Skiatook.
A second F4 Tornado struck Oologah, Oklahoma, northeast of Tulsa. The other violent Tornado was the only one to strike within the National Weather Service Norman (branch) area of responsibility – initially touching down east of Enid, around two point five miles from Garber…
…This Tornado ultimately
became known as the ‘Red Rock’ Tornado. It touched down at around 6:30pm, moved
northeast around sixty six miles over an hour and a half – making it one of the
longest Tornado paths document in Oklahoma.
In closing of this outbreak overview, another six Tornadoes touched down in north central and north eastern Oklahoma during the late afternoon and evening of the 26th April 1991.
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 26th April 1991 outbreak thru the lens of a camera in the videos below.
The Tornado in the below video
struck during the severe weather event – outbreak of Tornadoes – of April 2018.
Find out more about the event at the bottom of the article.
We’ve watched this footage
over and over again! In the video below, watch a Tornado rip the roof from a
house in Meridian, Mississippi.
The video was captured by Aeje
Chaudhary on the day the Tornado struck – 14th April. However, the
video was then sold to RM videos.
Subsequently, the video broker
posted the video on their official YouTube account.
During the evening of the 13th
April, supercells developed across northeast Louisiana (LA) within the broad warm sector of strong
surface “cyclone” not so far from the border of Kansas/Nebraska.
The storms displayed rotation
almost immediately, which then began producing Tornadoes across northern LA.
According to the National
Weather Service (NWS), two Tornadoes happened in the NWS Jackson, Mississippi (MS
– branch) forecast area – association with a supercell that tracked from near
1: north northeastward along the Boeuf River.
It’s suffice to suggest these
storms also produced strong wind as they moved into southeast Arkansas (AR).
Overnight, the cold front associated with the storm system began to move
2: A quasi-linear convective
system developed over the ArkLaTex and moved eastward.
Again, according to the NWS,
these storms reached the western portion of the Jackson, MS (branch) forecast
area after 2:30am on the 14th April. Six Tornadoes touched down
during the early morning hours across southwest AR…
…Not forgetting northeast LA –
due to this line of above mentioned storms. The storms carried on to produce
damaging straight-line winds, knocking down trees and power lines in a number
Throughout the morning of the
14th April, the storms continued to move eastward into MS. A handful
of Tornadoes developed along this line of storms…
…Including one in Flowood,
one near Noxapater, one in western Lamar County and the article-related EF-2
Tornado in Meridian.
With that being said, listed below are some fast facts regarding the event:
The atmosphere was suitable for severe weather – due to the
highly uncharacteristic moisture and instability for early April across the
A strong low
pressure system advanced into this favourable air mass. Combining with robust
wind shear, which enabled these potent storms.
Eleven Tornadoes were confirmed across Illinois on the 9th
struck north central Illinois.
struck northwest Illinois
struck central Illinois
Six of the Tornadoes that struck north central Illinois formed
from one supercell thunderstorm. This includes the strongest Tornado that was a
long track EF-41.
mentioned EF-4 Tornado began near Franklin Grove (Lee County), through the
northwest side of Rochelle (Ogle County), across 1-39, through Fairdale (DeKalb
ended south of Belvidere (Boone County – far southern).
The EF-4 caused
two deaths, both of which were in Fairdale, Illinois. There was a total of
twenty two injuries.
The potential for severe weather was mentioned in forecast
graphics and products as early as the 4th April – which was a Saturday.
A Tornado of this scale is quite rare. This was the first EF-4 or stronger
Tornado in National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago County Area in twenty five
years, since the F5 Tornado that struck Plainfield in 1990…
…This was the first EF-4 Tornado or stronger in Illinois since the two EF-4 Tornadoes that struck on the 17th November 2013 – including the one that struck Washington, Illinois.
In this post however, we’ll be focusing on the Parkersburg, Iowa EF-5 Tornado – which struck on the 25th May 2008 – find out more at the bottom of the article.
In the surveillance camera video below, watch the May 2008 Parkersburg, Iowa Tornado completely obliterate a home.
The surveillance camera footage was captured by the surveillance camera at First State Bank – bank’s drive-up ATM – in Parkersburg.
The above mentioned Tornado tore a forty three mile-long path across the counties of Butler and Black Hawk in Iowa.
The EF-5 took the lives of nine people, injuring dozens and causing several millions of dollars worth of damage.
The Tornado began near the Butler and Grundy County line, two miles south of Aplington, Iowa at 4:48pm (CDT).
The Tornado grew quickly in size and intensity over the next several minutes as it approached Parkersburg.
The Tornado was nearly three-quarters of a mile wide as it moved through the southern end of Parkersburg at 4:56 (CDT).
A third of the town experienced devastating damage with nearly two hundred homes completely destroyed.
The Tornado maintained it’s size and intensity as it moved through New Hartford, Iowa. At 5:09pm (CDT), the severe weather event moved just north of New Hartford, once again causing incredible structural and tree damage.
The Tornado weakened east of New Hartford with lesser damage as it pushed through portions of northern Black Hawk County – north of the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
During the weak phase of the Tornado, the parents supercell thunderstorm produced significant straight line winds from a large rear-flank downdraft (RFD) just south of the Tornado’s path.
Wind speeds of up to one hundred miles per hour were produced simply by the RFD, with a wind gust to ninety three at 5:37pm (CDT) measured at the Waterloo Airport.
The Tornado re-intensified and grew nearly one and a half miles wide north of Dunkerton, Iowa causing significant damage to a farmstead there. The Tornado dissipated just before leaving Black Hawk County at 5:50pm (CDT).
The 1st April marks the start of what is typically the most active & dangerous three-month period of the year for Tornadoes in the U.S.
Significant Tornadoes can happen in any month, as “we saw in early March” when twenty three lives were lost in the EF-4 Lee County, Alabama Tornado.
history illustrates April, May and June are the months with the highest potential
of having both the greatest number of Tornadoes…
… and the most intense Tornadoes
in a given year.
nineteen years (1998 – 2017), the U.S averaged one thousand two hundred and
thirty nine Tornadoes – which were crammed between April and June.
has seen the most Tornadoes each year, an average two hundred and seventy nine.
by June and April – which average around two hundred and thirteen + one hundred
and ninety two Tornadoes per year.
amount of Tornadoes from April to June is not the only reason why it makes it
such a dangerous time of year – their intensity is also a factor.
to Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, fifty eight per cent of all
Tornadoes are rated EF3 or stronger (1950 – 2012) touched down in the above
mentioned months – statistics revealed.
The percentage grows to sixty nine perfect – relating to EF-4 Tornadoes (1950 – 2012) or stronger. The EF5 rating has been applied to fifty nine Tornadoes dating back to 1950 – all but ten happened in April, May or June.
Tornadoes significally pose a threat, however the most intense account for the
higher number of deaths and damage.
three per cent of the deaths from the year 2000 to 2013 were from Tornadoes
rated EF-3 or stronger, according to Forbes.
Suffice to say eight of the ten worst U.S
Tornado outbreaks happened in April or May. The reason why? Mostly due to the
fact that upper echelon Tornado intensities are more likely in those months.
nine out of the ten worst separate Tornadoes were spawned during April, May or
are Tornadoes more common in spring compared to other months? Simple! The
atmospheric elements come together more often this time of the year.
of Tornadoes tend to happen when a storm system is propelled by a strong southward
dip in the jet stream punches into the Plains, Midwest and or south…
This is accompanied by warm and humid air flowing northward out of the Gulf of
jet stream will provide deep wind shear and or changing wind speed and direction
with height – supportive of rotating supercell thunderstorms.
If the wind shear strong in the first thousand feed near the surface, these supercell thunderstorms would more likely spawn Tornadoes.
on what has happened in the past, the greatest threat of Tornadic thunderstorms
has shifted from the south into parts of the Plains and Midwest – migrates through
April, May and June.
that being said, we’re going to close this article. This post was inspired by
The Weather Channel’s article which was posted several days ago – read here.