First F5/EF5 Tornado in Iowa Since June 1976 (2023)

F5/EF5 Tornadoes that have occurred
in Iowa Since 1871



Time in CST



Length of Path (Miles)

of Path (Feet)

Greene, Boone, Story, Marshall, Jasper & Poweshiek

June 17, 1882






This event may have begin as far west as Arcadia in Carroll County, but it is plotted here from southeast Greene County, and across southern Boone and Story Counties, where 16 farms were blown away. Ten people were killed near Rippley, Kelley, and in the southwest corner of Marshall County, as the tornado leveled farm after farm. This alone would have made it a major tornado event, but from there, the tornado continued to the southeast, killing seven people in Jasper County, and then devastating the town of Grinnell in Poweshiek County. The History of Poweshiek County counts 39 people dead at, or near, Grinnell as 73 homes were destroyed. Eye-witness descriptions point to the possibility of two tornadoes passing through together through Grinnell. Three of the deaths were students in the dormitory rooms at Grinnell College (which was called Iowa College at that time.) Grinnell damage totaled over $600,000. Continuing to the southeast, the tornado killed about 10 people in and near Malcolm, with $100,000 damage. Near the end of its path, two more people died 3 miles south of Brooklyn. There was downburst damage further to the southeast with some deaths. As with most tornadoes in the 19th century, the Grinnell death total is only an estimate, because no accurate storm survey was ever conducted. While the general movement was to the southeast, funnel clouds were reported as moving to the northeast. This indicates that the event was possibly a family of tornadoes. Each tornado turning to the northeast before lifting. Debris from Grinnell was reportedly found over 100 miles to the northeast in Wisconsin. Two people were killed on a train west of Grinnell.

Cherokee, Buena Vista, Pocahontas, & Calhoun

July 16, 1893






The tornado moved east southeast from 2 miles north of Quimby, passing 3 miles south of Alta, south of Newell, and crossing the northern part of Storm Lake. Homes were swept away in every county as the tornado was "bounding along the prairie like a huge ball." In Cherokee County, six people in a single family were killed. Three died in one family near Newell. Continuing east southeast, the tornado passed just to the south of many small communities along the railroad tracks and the tornado path finally coincided at the town of Pomeroy at 6:40 PM. Eighty percent of the homes of the 200 families in Pomeroy were damaged or destroyed, with many of them leveled to the ground. Damage was centered in the central and southern portions of town. The tornado lifted 3 miles east of Pomeroy, while still on a heading for Manson. Death toll estimates for this tornado vary from 50 to 100.Monthly Weather Reviewlisted the death toll at 50. TheReport of the Chief of the Weather Bureaulisted 89 deaths. The latter death total is possible only if every rumored dead or seriously injured person is counted. From the study that Thomas P. Gazulis (A Chronology and Analysis of Events: Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991) conducted the death count was settled to be 71. These fatalities would include12 in Cherokee County, 6 in Buena Vista County, 4 in Pocohontas County, and 49 in Calhoun (mainly in an around Pomeroy). Losses totaled about $400,000 for all counties.

Kossuth, Hancock,Winnebago, IA & Faribault, MN

Sep 21, 1894






This tornado moved east northeast from 3 miles north of Whitemore, then gradually turning to the northeast crossing the northwest corner of Hancock County. It passed between Buffalo Center and Thompson and ended near Kiester, MN. At least ten farms in Kossuth County were entirely leveled and swept away, with five or more having "little left to show that a farm once existed on the site." At least 13 deaths occurred in Kossuth County, with losses at over $500,000. One person died east of Buffalo Center, as a "home was wiped out of existence." It is possible that an F3 tornado struck west of Buffalo Center.


May 3, 1895






The tornado moved northeast from 3 miles north of Ireton to 2 miles southwest of of Hull. This tornado hit four schools. Two school houses several miles apart were leveled killing teachers and students. The dead teacher at the teacher at the first school (George Marsden at the Haggie School) was the brother of the teacher killed at the second school (Ann Marsden at the Coombs School). Adjoining farms were entirely leveled, with several deaths in homes. School children were carried for up to a half mile, and many sustained injuries that would be life-long burdens. Some publications put the death toll at 15.

Crawford, Carroll, & Greene

May 21, 1918






This tornado moved east northeast from 5 miles east of Denison to near Adaza. Twenty or more farms were devastated, and debris were carried for miles. A couple died in their home northeast of Carroll. Another couple were caught in a buggy racing home, north of Churdan, and was killed. No schools were apparently hit, although they were in session. Mattresses were carried two miles, as foundation of homes and barns were left bare. Damage was estimated at $300,000.

Cass & Adair

June 27, 1953






This tornado moved east northeast from 5 miles southwest of Adair to four miles south of town. Four farms were destroyed. Virtually nothing was left on the site of a farm near the county border. Heavy machinery was thrown over 100 yards and boards were driven into trees. Damage was estimated at $100,000.


October 14, 1966






The tornado moved north northeast from one mile north of Clarion to Belmond where a large section of town was devastated. About 109 homes were destroyed and 468 were damaged. Between Clarion and Belmond, 27 farms were hit, and several farm homes were leveled. About 75 of the 112 businesses in town were destroyed or damaged. The threatening skies had forewarned the crowd at the homecoming parade, and they had dispersed. Five of the six deaths were elderly people. One man died in a cement mixer truck.

Franklin, Butler, Floyd, Chickasaw, & Howard

May 15,1968






Tornado first sighted passing over a farmstead northeast of Hansell. It moved over the east edge of Aredale. Two funnels were simultaneously sighted at Aerdale. A funnel was observed to lift at Marble Rock. A continuous tornado path and associated tornado sightings were reported from east of Marble Rock to Charles City. The northeastward path of the tornado became northward as it swept through downtown Charles City at 3:47 p.m. and then recurving as it left Charles City to move northeast to Elma, passing northeastward across Elma and thence moving north-northeast to Highway 9 and finally north and northwest as it dissipated south of Chester. The greatest losses were in Charles City where 13 persons were killed, 450 injured of which 76 were hospitalized. 337 homes were completely destroyed and 1565 families in Charles City were affected by the tornado. Losses were estimated up to 30 million dollars. In Elma 12 persons were injured, 3 hospitalized and damage estimated at 1.5 million dollars. Additionally many farmsteads and rural homes were damaged or destroyed. The tornado entered Elma at 4:25 p.m. and continued to a point 14 miles north of Elma where its destructive path ended.


May 15,1968






The tornado passed through downtown Oelwein and moved north-northeast to Maynard moving through the town in a northward direction. It ended about 5 miles north-northeast of Maynard. Of the 156 injuries, 34 were hospitalized. 965 families were affected by the tornado. Loss estimates ranged upward to 21 million dollars. Most of which occurred in Oelwein.

Boone & Story

June 13,1976





This tornado first appeared as "the spinning underside of a saucer" (large rotating wall cloud) 3 miles southwest of Luther. The tornado moved northeast passing one mile north of Luther where it turned to the north. The massive tornado then passed through and destroyed the hamlet of Jordan. The tornado then curved to the northwest, then made a 110 degree turn, and moved east to just over the county line. From there damage was continuous to Story City, but not everyone agrees whether that damage was from microbursts or tornadoes. About 75% of Story City had some kind of wind damage (mostly F0). The F4 and F5 damage was in rural areas in and near Jordon. Hundreds of animals on nearby farms were killed. The tornado was on the ground about an hour. The unusual U-shaped path was probably caused by an interaction with some manner of cold air outflow from the parent thunderstorm.*The data in this table came fromStorm Data, Significant Tornadoes--1680-1991by Thomas P. Grazulis and
**Injuries and Deaths are for the entire tornado track.


How many F5 tornadoes has Iowa had? ›

Since 1871, Iowa has had eleven F5/EF5 tornadoes (the most intense damage category on the Fujita and Enhanced Fujita damage scales - less than 1% of tornado occurrences - wind speeds greater than 200 mph).

Has Iowa ever had an EF5 tornado? ›

The tornado was the first F5 or EF5 tornado in Iowa since one hit Jordan on June 13, 1976, and the second deadliest in Iowa since official record-keeping began in 1950. The deadliest tornado affected the Charles City area on May 15, 1968, and killed 13 while producing F5 damage.

What was the strongest tornado to hit Iowa? ›

The most devastating tornado to ever hit Iowa struck Charles City in 1968. While Iowa has had thousands of powerful and devastating tornadoes over the years, its most powerful and deadly in recorded history was the Charles City Tornado of 1968.

Which state had the first EF5 tornado? ›

A large stone monastery was partially leveled to the ground. 1953 Waco tornado outbreak – This was the first officially-ranked F5 tornado in the United States.

What was the worst tornado in Iowa history? ›

Here are the deadliest Iowa tornadoes:

125 killed: June 30, 1860, "Camanche tornado" in Hardin, Linn, Jones and Clinton counties. The was the deadliest disaster in Iowa history. 71 killed: June 6, 1893, Pomeroy. 70 killed: June 17, 1882, Grinnell.

What was the worst F5 tornado in US history? ›

The most "extreme" tornado in recorded history was the Tri-State tornado, which spread through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It is considered an F5 on the Fujita Scale, even though tornadoes were not ranked on any scale at the time.

Is an EF5 tornado worse than an F5? ›

The old scale lists an F5 tornado as wind speeds of 261–318 mph (420–512 km/h), while the new scale lists an EF5 as a tornado with winds above 200 mph (322 km/h), found to be sufficient to cause the damage previously ascribed to the F5 range of wind speeds.

What year had the most EF5 tornadoes? ›

The longest F5/EF5-free periods are April 1, 1884 to June 15, 1892 (8 years 45 days) and May 3, 1999 to May 4, 2007 (8 years exactly).

Where was the worst tornado in Iowa? ›

Tornado outbreak of May 1968
An F5 tornado near Charles City, Iowa on May 15, 1968
Duration of tornado outbreak227 hours, 32 minutes
Fatalities72 fatalities, 1,203 injuries
Damage>$52.5 million
Areas affectedCentral and Southern United States
14 more rows

What was the biggest storm ever in Iowa? ›

The Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 not only impacted Iowa, but brought massive amounts of snow and wind to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, going down in history as one of the biggest snowstorms in the Midwest.

What was the deadliest single tornado in US history? ›

The deadliest tornado of all time in the United States was the Tri-State Tornado on March 18, 1925 in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. It killed 695 people and injured over 2,000.

What is the fastest tornado in US history? ›

On the evening of Monday, May 3, 1999, a large and exceptionally powerful F5 tornado registered the highest wind speeds ever measured globally; winds were recorded at 301 ± 20 miles per hour (484 ± 32 km/h) by a Doppler on Wheels (DOW) radar.

Has there ever been a F6 tornado? ›

In total, two tornadoes received the rating of F6, but both were later downgraded to F5. Based on aerial photographs of the damage it caused, Fujita assigned the strongest tornado of the 1974 Super Outbreak, which affected Xenia, Ohio, a preliminary rating of F6 intensity ± 1 scale.

What state has never experienced a tornado? ›

Tornadoes have been documented in every U.S. state (not including the non-state territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico) at least once since 1950, although some regions and states are hit by tornadoes far more than others.

Why is there no F6 tornado? ›

The F6 is a mythical tornado that you would likely only see in movies or hear of in tall tales. It is similar to the magnitude 10 tornado. Early history may have witnessed such phenomena but they have not occurred in modern times due to more settled climates.

What was the worst Iowa storm? ›

The blizzard of Jan. 12, 1888 was probably the worst of history over north and west Iowa and in the upper Great Plains. Numerous people were lost and frozen in the storm as it swept across Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska.

What were the top 3 worst tornadoes? ›

Summary of the 12 Deadliest Tornadoes on Earth
RankHurricane NameDate
1Daulatpur – SaturiaApril 25, 1989
2Tri-StateMarch 18, 1925
3Bangladesh 1973April 17, 1973
4SicilyDecember 8, 1851
8 more rows
Apr 30, 2023

What are the two worst tornadoes in history? ›

Storm Prediction Center
118 Mar 1925695
206 May 1840317
327 May 1896255
405 Apr 1936216
21 more rows

When was the last EF5 tornado to hit the United States? ›

The nation's last EF-5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013.

What was the first F5 tornado? ›

The F5 tornado that struck Fargo, ND on the evening of June 20, 1957 was a historic event in meteorological history. The tornado also changed the lives of many people living in Fargo that year. This tornado would be studied by Dr. Ted Fujita, who would later go on to create the Fujita damage scale.

What is the famous F5 tornado? ›


Nearly 1/3 of a mile wide, the massive F5 tornado crossed Waco on a path that ran almost south to north, killing 114 persons and injuring 597. It destroyed around 600 homes and other buildings and damaged over 1000, including 2000 vehicles.

Is Iowa in Tornado Alley? ›

Tornado Alley is a region covering the Great Plains known for its tornado activity. While its exact boundaries are debated, it generally encompasses parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and northern Texas.

Can anything withstand an EF5 tornado? ›

An above-ground tornado shelter is 100% capable of withstanding the force applied by even an EF5 tornado. If you live in a place where tornadoes are common, it's important that you have a place to go when a storm strikes.

Can anything survive an EF5 tornado? ›

But while the most violent and rare EF-5 tornado can level and blow away almost any house, most tornadoes are much weaker and can be survived using some safety precautions – chiefly, taking advantage of a basement if your home happens to have one.

What tornado was extremely rare? ›

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ten years ago on May 20, 2013, the most recent EF5 tornado in U.S. history tore through parts of Newcastle and Moore, OK.

Was the Joplin tornado an EF5? ›

In the late afternoon of May 22, 2011, an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado struck Joplin, Mo. Reaching a maximum width of over one mile and with winds peaking at more than 200 mph, the tornado destroyed or damaged virtually everything in a six-mile path.

What is the longest tornado in history? ›

Tornado: Longest-Lasting/Greatest Distance Traveled Single Tornado
Record Value352.4 km (219 mi.) / 3 ½ hours duration
Date of Event18/3/1925
Geospatial LocationEllington, Missouri to Princeton Indiana

What town has been hit by the most tornadoes? ›

Oklahoma City is almost in a class by itself when it comes to tornado activity,” he explains. “According to the local National Weather Service office, the capital of Oklahoma has been hit more than 140 times since records began in the early 1890s.

What category was the tornado in Iowa? ›

Short summary: A long track EF2 tornado began in Wapello County northeast of Ottumwa and damaged three homes and one hog confinement facility. The tornado developed into a large storm in southern Keokuk County across mostly farmland, where it then traveled into Washington and Johnson counties.

Has a tornado ever hit Des Moines? ›

The last tornado to hit Des Moines was in 2007 and before that an F1 touched down in 2000. So although rare, Des Moines is not immune and it has nothing to do our two rivers.

Has Iowa ever had a blizzard? ›

April 8-10 of 1973, a record-settling blizzard affect much of Iowa with incredible snowfall totals and intense blowing and drifting.

What was the blizzard of 1975 in Iowa? ›

Iowa History Daily: On January 9, 1975, Iowans braced for the storm of the century as the infamous “Super Bowl Blizzard” prepared to shake the state. The storm unleashed 45 tornadoes while killing 12 in the southeastern United States, and claimed 58 lives as the blizzard swept across the Midwest.

Has Iowa ever had a tropical storm? ›

The last tropical storm system to move directly through Iowa occurred in 1900.

What is the widest tornado in the US history? ›

Widest tornado: El Reno, Oklahoma (May 31, 2013)

Tornadoes that are over 1 mile wide are rare, and over 2 miles wide are almost unfathomable. The one that hit El Reno, Oklahoma in 2013 was 2.6 miles wide. Wide tornadoes aren't always the most deadly, but the El Reno, Oklahoma was an exception.

How did Matt Suter survive? ›

He survived after being swept up inside a tornado. One of the tornadoes swept Matt Suter up and threw him nearly a quarter mile from his grandmother's home in Fordland, Missouri. Suter woke up in a grassy field sometime later after being thrown over a barbed wire fence.

How many mph was the strongest tornado ever? ›

302 mph

What country gets the most tornadoes? ›

The United States has the most tornadoes of any country, as well as the strongest and most violent tornadoes. A large portion of these tornadoes form in an area of the central United States popularly known as Tornado Alley. Canada experiences the second most tornadoes.

Has every state had a tornado? ›

While tornadoes occur in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., several states experience minimal tornadic activity in an average season.

Is Tornado Alley shifting? ›

More recently, that focus has shifted eastward by 400 to 500 miles. In the past decade or so tornadoes have become prevalent in eastern Missouri and Arkansas, western Tennessee and Kentucky, and northern Mississippi and Alabama—a new region of concentrated storms. Tornado activity in early 2023 epitomized the trend.

What is the tornado capital of the world? ›

In Oklahoma, known as the tornado capital of the world, winds have previously reached a mind boggling 400 kilometres per hour. However, many scientists and experts in recent years have warned that people living in southern parts of the country are just as much at risk of tornadoes as those in the Plains are.

What state is best to chase tornadoes? ›

Florida is undoubtedly the place to be for any aspiring storm chaser. The Sunshine State comes in first on our list with a storm chaser score of 80.23. Florida reports more days of tropical storms than any other state in the country and frequently faces other natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes.

Can a hurricanes spawn EF5 tornadoes? ›

Hurricanes are notorious for their strong winds, storm surge and torrential rains, but another threat they form is tornadoes. Tornadoes spawning from a tropical storm or hurricane once it makes landfall is not uncommon. It is actually more rare to not see at least one tornado spawned from these spinning storms.

When was the last F5 tornado in the US? ›

The nation's last EF-5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013.

How common are F5 tornadoes? ›

Only about 0.06% of all tornadoes are classified as F5 or EF5. That's about one tornado out of every 1,666.

What was the deadliest tornado in US history? ›

The deadliest tornado of all time in the United States was the Tri-State Tornado on March 18, 1925 in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. It killed 695 people and injured over 2,000.

What is the fastest a tornado has ever gone? ›

Mobile Doppler radars such as the University of Oklahoma's Doppler on Wheels have remotely sensed tornado wind speeds above ground level as high as about 302 mph.

Is Iowa a tornado alley? ›

Tornado Alley is a region covering the Great Plains known for its tornado activity. While its exact boundaries are debated, it generally encompasses parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and northern Texas.

Is there a tornado worse than F5? ›

It ranges from a T0 for extremely weak tornadoes to T11 for the most powerful known tornadoes. T0–T1 roughly corresponds to F0, T2–T3 to F1, and so on. While T10–T11 would be roughly equivalent to F5, the highest tornado rated to date on the TORRO scale was a T8.

What state has had the most F5 tornadoes? ›

South. The Southern United States has suffered more tornado fatalities than any other part of the country. Some areas experience repeated damaging tornado events, such as the Tennessee Valley and in northern Alabama. The state of Alabama is tied for the most reported F5 tornadoes.

What is the difference between F5 and EF5? ›

The old scale lists an F5 tornado as wind speeds of 261–318 mph (420–512 km/h), while the new scale lists an EF5 as a tornado with winds above 200 mph (322 km/h), found to be sufficient to cause the damage previously ascribed to the F5 range of wind speeds.

Can anything survive an F5 tornado? ›

Namely, the expected fatality rate for those exposed to F/EF5 tornadoes is around one percent. Put another way, 99 percent of people exposed to the worst tornadoes survive the experience.

What can withstand an F5 tornado? ›

An above-ground tornado shelter is 100% capable of withstanding the force applied by even an EF5 tornado.

Are brick houses safer in a tornado? ›

“The advantage of a brick exterior is the strength of the product in the wall. Most building brick have a minimum compressive strength of 3000 psi, which makes them very difficult to chip, crack or break due to environmental forces.”


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