The May 15th – 16th Tornado outbreak of 1968

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.

  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee

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.

Resource credit: National Weather Service

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.

FYI: The 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 Sheriff.

RELATED: 1968 Charles City Tornado – interesting survivor stories feature in this blogpost.

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.

RELATED: May 15 1968 Iowa Tornado Summary – official Facebook page for the Charles City Tornado.

Tornado captured on camera in Lake County, Tennessee

A Tornado has been captured on camera in Lake County, Tennessee – in/around Ridgely to be precise – watch in the videos below.

The videos appear to be the same however edited for a better look.

The video was captured by Tyler Holcomb on the day the Tornado struck – yesterday, 2nd May. Find a photo of the relating-Tornado below.

Photo credit: Tyler Gooch

April 2011 Super Tornado Outbreak – relive the outbreak in video

RELATED: Videos of the Violent EF4 and EF5 Tornadoes on April 27, 2011

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 Weather Service.

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 seaboard.

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.

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Captured on surveillance camera! Tornado sweeps house away

This Tornado was one of many that struck during the outbreak of the 17th November 2013. Find out more about the outbreak at the bottom of the article.

In the surveillance camera video below, watch the November 2013 Diamond, Illinois Tornado sweep a display house away.

The surveillance camera footage was captured by the surveillance cameras at TD Pete’s Diamond Shell on the day the Tornado struck.

With that being said, listed below are a few facts regarding the outbreak:

  • This outbreak had just over seventy Tornadoes across seven states including Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
  • Illinois and Indiana had fifty five of these Tornadoes.
  • There were twenty five Tornadoes in Illinois identified.
    • Fourteen being significant (EF-2 or stronger)
    • Three being EF-3 Tornadoes
    • Two being EF-4 Tornadoes
  • One supercell in Illinois dropped five Tornadoes, which were the ones to impact Perkin, Washington, Dana, Coal City, Manhattan and Frankfort – not forgetting Diamond.
  • The EF-4 Tornado which struck Washington, Illinois, had winds of one hundred and ninety miles per hour.
  • There were thirty Tornadoes in Indiana identified.
  • One hundred and one Tornado warnings were issued for Illinois on the day of the outbreak.

We will be producing an relive in video article for this particular outbreak in the near future.

Severe weather threat potential this weekend for traditional Tornado Alley

Recent forecast models have suggested the possibility of severe weather from Friday through Monday from the central/south Plains to the Ohio valley, Tennessee valley and Dixie Alley, as reported by Zach Walters.

Photo credit: Zach Walters

Walters said with it being too far off to make any projections, he will not report on those until Tuesday/Wednesday.

However, he did say when looking at the instability models and other elements there could be a handful of significant supercells across the southern Plains on Saturday. This means one or two Tornadoes could be produced.

We will have more on this potential severe weather threat when it comes to light.