SPC Stats

Path length: 9.7 miles

Width:  1000 yards

Fatalities:  6

Injuries:  172

Rating:  F5

County:  Wright

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 this tornado rated at F4.  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 and 75 businesses were destroyed.   There were 6 fatalities and over 150 injuries.  Here is a a clip from the Des Moines Register from October 15, 1966 about the fatalities:

Here is an Eye-witness story present in the Mason City Globe-Gazette:

Storm Data Entry

109 homes destroyed, 160 received major damage, 308 homes had minor damage.  75 businesses destroyed to 112 badly damaged.  All gas, electricity and telephones out.  Skies threatened during homecoming parade and crowd dispersed by time tornado hit (no-one has claimed to have seen a funnel).  Highway patrol, Red Cross and National Guard were there in hours to feed, shelter and police area – help from all over state and outside. Damage path from SW to NNE.  Estimated damage from $7,500,000 to $11,000,000 in Belmond alone.  No estimate on area surrounding where 27 farmsteads in total were struck, many completely destroyed.  18 cattle kitted, many crippled, 420 hogs and 550 chickens killed, miles of fence down also corn flattened.

Tornado Path

Click map to enlarge.

SPC coordinates:  Start: 42.80 / -93.65      End: 42.92 / -93.53

Note:  The official coordinates end the path in Hancock County.  No sources list that county in the path.  

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Videos

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

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:

Path Length:

  • 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.

Width:

  • Storm Data lists no width.
  • Remaining sources have a width of 1000 yards.

Rating:

  • SPC/NCDC have a rating of F5.
  • Grazulis has an F4 rating.

Injury Count:

  • Storm Data lists 127 injuries.
  • Remaining sources has 172 injuries.

Counties:

  • All sources only list Wright County in the path.  When you plot the official SPC coordinates, the path ends in Hancock County.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      October 1966 Storm Data Publication

      SPC:  F5 and EF5 Tornadoes of the United States

      newspapers.com

      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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