A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck Iowa In 1968… And No One Saw It Coming

We are lucky enough to live in a time when weather prediction methods are advanced enough to let us see tornadoes before they form. The advanced warnings let us prepare and brace ourselves for the coming storms. This technology is relatively new, however. On May 15, 1968, a pair of F-5 tornadoes swept through Floyd and Fayette Counties, killing 18, injuring more than 600, and leveling hundreds of homes and other buildings.

This footage of the aftermath in Charles City shows just how devastating these tornadoes were.

The same storm system went on to produce several more tornadoes in Iowa that evening, but no other fatalities occurred and none were nearly as powerful as those in Floyd and Fayette Counties.

Iowa experienced many tornadoes before these and many after – and, given our location, we will see even more in the future. However, the 1968 storms were some of the most destructive on record. True to Iowa’s hardworking spirit, people began picking up the pieces the very next day and the towns were rebuilt. But the people who lived through those storms will never forget that day and the damage they witnessed.

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