Path length: 9.7 miles
Width: 1000 yards
It is the only F5/EF5 on record during the month of October: The October 14, 1966 Belmond, IA Tornado. Just minutes after the high school’s homecoming parade, this devastating twister demolished a large section of town. The total path was approximately 12 miles. It began just north of Clarion and moved NNE through Belmond.
Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes has a rating of F4 for this twister. Here is a response from Grazulis on a tweet we posted in 2018: “No F5 damage anywhere. As shown in green sigtor, one unattached house was picked up, dropped <100 feet away and collapsed. F1 to every house around it. Minimal F4 elsewhere. Lots of Pre-1975 issues.”
Per Storm Data, 109 homes were destroyed, 160 had major data and 308 had minor damage. 75 businesses were destroyed, 112 were badly damaged. 27 farmsteads were struck and many of these were demolished. There was great loss of cattle, hogs and chickens and acres of corn flattened. Six people were killed and over 150 were injured. Here is a a clip from the Des Moines Register from October 15, 1966 about the fatalities:
Here is an eye-witness story documented in the Mason City Globe-Gazette:
I found an amazing story on the Flickr page for The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois Archives. Cadette Troop #103 in Conrad, Iowa wanted to help the people of Belmond any way they could. They sent several letters and finally heard back from one of their former girl scout leaders. She told them the story of Tammy Nelson. This 8-year-old girl had open heart surgery about one and half years before the tornado came through her town. Her family’s home was completely destroyed by the twister.
After hearing her story, the troop from Conrad decided to adopt Tammy. They traveled to visit her family and see the devastation. The young girls in the troop donated clothes to Tammy and replaced some of her doll’s clothing as well. Below is an embed from the Flickr page showing the letter from the troop about this experience along with a picture of “Tornado Tammy” standing where her home used to be.
Photos from Social Media
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the October 1966 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- SPC/NCDC have a 9.7 mile path length.
- Storm Data has a length of 10-12 miles.
- Grazulis has a length of 12 miles.
- Storm Data lists no width.
- Remaining sources have a width of 1000 yards.
- SPC/NCDC have a rating of F5.
- Grazulis has an F4 rating.
- Storm Data lists 127 injuries.
- Remaining sources has 172 injuries.
- All sources only list Wright County in the path. When you plot the official SPC coordinates, the path ends in Hancock County.
October 1966 Storm Data Publication
SPC: F5 and EF5 Tornadoes of the United States
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois Archives Flickr Page
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1084-1085.
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