A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

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HurricaneBill
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A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#1 Postby HurricaneBill » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:55 pm

Like the 1971 Mississippi Delta Outbreak, this particular outbreak seems to be largely forgotten. Not much info seems to be on the internet about it.

This outbreak was the second deadliest outbreak of the 1960s. The 1965 Palm Sunday Outbreak was the deadliest.

The May 15, 1968 Outbreak produced 39 tornadoes and affected 10 states:
Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The 39 tornadoes:
1 F0, 18 F1s, 10 F2s, 6 F3s, 2 F4s, and 2 F5s.

8 of the tornadoes were killers.

Killer Tornadoes:

Tornado #4: F5 tornado tracked 62 miles through Iowa. Charles City, IA was particularly hard hit. It left 13 people dead and 462 injured.

Tornado #8: An F5 tornado tracked 13 miles through Iowa. Maynard, IA took a direct hit. This tornado killed 5 and injured 156.

Tornado #10: An F1 tornado tracked 25 miles through Illinois, striking the towns of Wapella and Parnell. 4 died and 50 were injured.

Tornado #23: An F3 tracked 7 miles through Baxter County in Arkansas. 3 died and 25 were injured.

Tornado #26: An F4 tracked through Independence County in Arkansas. 7 were killed and 24 injured.

Tornado #27: F3 tornado tracked south of Freeburg, Illinois in St. Clair County. This tornado killed 4 and injured 60.

Tornado #28: This F4 tornado tracked nearly 21 miles through Arkansas. The city of Jonesboro took a direct hit from this tornado. The towns of Gibson, Needham, Manila, and Big Lake were also struck. This tornado killed 35 people and injured 364. This was not only the deadliest tornado of the outbreak, but also of 1968.

Tornado #34: An F3 tornado tracked over 50 miles in Indiana, striking the town of Huntington and the city of Fort Wayne. This tornado killed 1 and injured 15.

In all, this outbreak left 72 dead and 1,203 injured. The outbreak also caused more than $65 million in damage.
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#2 Postby CrazyC83 » Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:28 am

Wow, that is one major outbreak. There should be more on the Internet about it...
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#3 Postby HarlequinBoy » Thu Aug 30, 2007 5:37 pm

Wow, I was familiar with the Jonesboro tornado but didn't realize it was part of such a major outbreak.

I've always wondered why the 1971 Delta Outbreak is so overlooked, and now I wonder about this one.
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#4 Postby snoopj » Tue Oct 02, 2007 3:58 pm

I know this is way late getting into the discussion on this.

My mother witnessed Tornado #8. She told me that she was able to watch that one from a distance from the farm they lived on at the time. It's her stories that got me interested in weather so much.

Older residents of the communities of Oelwein and Maynard still talk about that tornado to this day.

--snoopj
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#5 Postby HurricaneBill » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:49 pm

I found a pic of the F5 tornado that ripped through Charles City, Iowa.

Image
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#6 Postby TerryMc666 » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:42 pm

I lived in Charles City, Iowa as a kid when the tornado hit. It came within a mile and a half of our farm north of town. The tornado did massive damage, 3 schools, 8 churches destroyed, 90 businesses around 500 homes also destroyed. The last two years I've been researching the storm and developing stories from living eye witnesses and hope to have a website up soon of this event.
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#7 Postby Cyclenall » Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:41 pm

TerryMc666 wrote:I lived in Charles City, Iowa as a kid when the tornado hit. It came within a mile and a half of our farm north of town. The tornado did massive damage, 3 schools, 8 churches destroyed, 90 businesses around 500 homes also destroyed. The last two years I've been researching the storm and developing stories from living eye witnesses and hope to have a website up soon of this event.

That's amazing. Did you see the F5 tornado in person? If so, that would be something that not many have seen. I'd love to see a website on that.
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#8 Postby TerryMc666 » Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:15 am

I actually didn't see the tornado, my parents and older brother did.

I remember the day. It was extremely calm when we left for the school bus, we lived about 7 1/2 miles north of Charles City on a farm.

As the day progressed it became extremely muggy and hot, it reached 84% which is about 20% above the normal for May. I was at a track meet outside and it was sunny and really windy but I remember looking up with other kids and a teacher when we heard thunder, but the sky was just filled with white clouds and sun.

On the way home on the bus about 4:20 to 4:30 another bus rider had a transistor radio and heard there was a tornado heading for Charles City. It was raining by the time we reached our farm. When we made it in the house and the wind picked up and rained hard and then hail about the size of golfballs fell...then it became extremely still.

My brother was up in the loft of our barn and was looking out the south open window. He came running in the house to tell us to get in the basement. He said: "it's coming, the tornado, I think it's a tornado." According to my brother he said it was about a half mile wide and looked like a grey cloud traveling across the ground.

Most of my brothers and sisters headed for the basement, and the lights started flickering and then went out. My mother and father and older brother watched the tornado as it hit several farms just east of us. The tornado eventually traveled another 20 to 25 miles on the ground destroying around 12 farms. And then hit the small town of Elma, Iowa and destroyed a church and a few houses and then it disipated as it traveled about 20 to 30 miles further into MN.

We drove as far as we could into Charles City, but the town was closed to incoming traffic by national guard and a significant number of streets were blocked with debris. We turned around in a farm where the entire side of the two story house was gone and barns and buildings were all gone. The owners were out searching for animals or household items in the pasture.

We followed the path of the tornado as it went northeasterly out of town. Not to hard to do, since trees and powerlines were down and bent metal were in trees.

We came upon several farms that were completely obliterated. I remember seeing a horse farm where we saw 5 dead horses and in the distance I could see a tractor wrapped around a tree.

The research I've been conducting includes interviewing individuals who saw and lived through the storm. I've also found photos of the surrounding areas. Since this tornado went through different stages, I have now found several photos of the tornado, such as in the beginning when it was more of a rope tornado to when two to three smaller funnels came together near the south side of town and merged to become a larger wedge tornado funnel. This funnel was between 3 blocks to 6 blocks wide as it went through town.

I have a hunch that it may have been a multi-ple vortex tornado, because several witnesses refer to seeing a massive tornado cloud of debris and several smaller funnels near by.

I'll let you know when the site is up and running.
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#9 Postby TheresaL » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:22 pm

This is very interesting! I too was there when this ripped through Charles City. However, I was only 4 yrs. old. We lived in town. I remember running to the basement. When it was over, we went outside and the house across the alley was flattened. I remember seeing the pictures of the damage my folks had.
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Re: A Forgotten Outbreak?: May 15, 1968 Outbreak

#10 Postby lorib » Thu May 08, 2008 11:58 pm

I was 8 yrs. old, living in CC at the time of the tornado. The CC Press is doing a special anniversary edition remembering the tornado. Not a day I will ever forget. Did you ever get the website up? If you are still looking for survivors I know of a couple that were very involved in the aftermath cleanup.
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