1. The Great Flood of 1851
This flood was a result of record-breaking rainfalls of 74.5 inches. Compare that to an average rainfall of around 32.5 inches, and you can see why the flooding occurred. The Great Flood of 1851 affected a large area of the U.S., but Iowa was the hardest hit. The flooding went on for four months, from May to August of 1851. Many homes, crops, roads and businesses were destroyed during this flood.
2. The Rockdale Flood of July 4, 1876
While this flood affected a fairly small area, it is the deadliest flood in the history of Iowa. Roughly 40 people died during the flood, and only two buildings in the town were left standing: the Rockdale Mill and one house.
3. The Mississippi River Flood of 1965
This flood saw record-breaking river levels and extensive damage. There were 14 fatalities, and roughly 15,000 people were driven from their homes. The flooding, overall, caused $125 million in damage. That would be worth roughly $1 billion after adjusting for inflation.
4. The Great Flood of 1993
The Great Flood of 1993 is considered to be one of the worst in Iowa’s history. The summer of ‘93 saw rain in some locations for 130 consecutive days, and some areas flooded over five times. During this flood, there were 17 fatalities and roughly $2.7 billion in damage. Over 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and 21,000 homes were damaged, many of which were completely destroyed.
5. The 2008 Flood
After the Great Flood of 1993, the 2008 flood is easily Iowa’s most devastating flood in modern history. While the 2008 flood impacted a smaller area and didn’t go on as long as the ‘93 flood, the 2008 flooding was more focused and intense. Areas hardest hit were in the Cedar and Iowa River basins in eastern Iowa. During this flood, there was one fatality, and there was roughly $10 billion in damage. Millions of acres of corn and soybeans were plunged underwater during this flood, and more than 40,000 people were affected. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were the hardest hit cities in Iowa, with over 5,200 homes and many buildings damaged or destroyed.
6. The Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940
On November 11th, 1940, a deadly blizzard blew through Iowa, dropping more than two feet of snow and forming 20-foot high snow drifts. The storm killed thousands of cattle. 154 people also died in the blizzard.
7. The Great Storm of 1975 (aka, The Super Bowl Blizzard)
This was a fast-moving and deadly blizzard that impacted a large portion of central and southeast United States. The storm raged from January 9th to January 12th in 1975. The storm produced 45 tornadoes in the southeast U.S., resulting in 12 fatalities, as well as over two feet of snow, and 58 fatalities in the Midwest. The heaviest snow fell in northeast Iowa, through central Minnesota and up to Lake Superior.
8. The 1991 Halloween Blizzard
This blizzard produced heavy snowfall and ice accumulation that affected the Upper Midwest, including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin from October 31st to November 3rd. Parts of northern Iowa were crippled by a large ice storm, along with record low temperatures. During this snow and ice storm, 22 people were killed and over 100 were injured.
9. The Camanche Tornado of 1860
The Camanche Tornado of 1860 was extremely deadly. There were 28 people near Dewitt who died on farms, 41 died in Camanche, and 23 died on a raft in the Mississippi River. That leaves the death toll at 92. There were also 175 people injured.
10. The May 1968 Tornado
There were two F5 tornadoes that occurred in Iowa as part of this outbreak that overall produced 46 tornadoes and struck most of the central and southern parts of the U.S. It is considered one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, as well as one of the deadliest outbreaks in Iowa history. The first tornado struck Charles city, destroying most of the area, with 13 fatalities, 462 injured, and $30 million in damages. The second tornado struck Fayette County, destroying or damaging nearly 1000 homes. There were five fatalities during this tornado, and 156 people were injured. Damages were roughly $21 million.
11. The Tornadoes of 2008
In Parkersburg, a devastating EF5 tornado struck the area on May 25, 2008. Winds in an EF5 tornado are estimated to be over 200mph. During the tornado, tragically, seven people died in Parkersburg, and two in rural New Hartford. There were also at least 70 people who were injured and hospitalized. During the course of the tornado, over 400 homes were destroyed or damaged, the roof was taken off the high school, and the elementary school was damaged, as well. In June, an F3 tornado hit Blencoe and Moorhead, leaving four people dead and 48 injured. In all, there were 12 fatalities of the 2008 tornadoes, making it the deadliest year since 1968.