Has Waterloo Ever Been Hit By an EF5 Tornado?
Tornadoes: cool as can be in movies like Twister and Wizard of Oz. Devastating and sometimes deadly as can be in real life. This week in Iowa it's Severe Weather Awareness Week (March 21st-27th). This time of year, we're worried most about the mighty tornado. But, does history match our need to be cautious and prepared? In short, yes. But for Black Hawk County, history dictates tornados are damaging, but not deadly.
First off, let's start with my sources before I throw info at you. The highly reliable website Tornado Project has documented every confirmed tornado in our state, including the specimens strength, since 1950. They did, however, stop documenting tornadoes in 2012. So, for info from '12 through today, I used various news outlets such as KCRG.
Next, understanding the term 'EF' and the number, 05, that follows. 'EF' stands for Enhanced Fujita. the Enhanced Fujita scale rates the intensity of a tornado based on the damage they cause. An EF5, the worst of the worst, contain wind speeds of over 200 miles per hour. An EF4 would be winds between 166–200 mph. This continues down 'til you hit EF0, which is a tornado with 65–85mph winds. There's been six observed EF5 tornadoes in Iowa since 1950.
Alrighty, let's dig into area info:
Worst Tornadoes in Black Hawk County
Since 1950, Black Hawk has experienced over 35 tornadoes, with even a couple very mild ones popping off last year. However, we have actually never had 'the big one', an EF5 tornado in the county. The strongest ever to hit county was an EF4 back on August 26th, 1965. A very late season tornado, this puppy injured 17 and caused one fatality. It was spotted at approximately 7 pm. However the worst to his the county was much, much more recent. May 11th, 2000. This tornado did hit the city of Waterloo. It was an EF3 (almost an EF4) and it caused one death, 25 injuries, and a ton of damage locally. While the site never finished its story, you can see some photos of that beast here.
So there you have it. Black Hawk is far from tornado proof, but overall hasn't seen the deadliest of tornadoes in its history. I think most folks who have lived here for a while remember the worst tornado in recent Iowa history. The EF5 that ripped through Parkersburg on May 25th, 2008. Many, many homes were destroyed. Of these, 17 were assessed to have sustained EF5 damage. Let's hope and pray we never see anything like that again in Iowa.
In case you want to see a powerful tornado up close without, you know SEEING one up close, check out from verified YouTuber Pecos Hank. He's a storm chaser and spotted this bad boy in Kansas back in 2016.
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