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Here one minute, gone the next

Posted February 27, 2013 in Community Featured, Boone

Between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, June 13, 1976, an F-5 tornado demolished the tiny Boone County town of Jordan. None of the 60 residents died, although several suffered minor injuries. Damage to homes, farm buildings, a grain elevator, school, crops and livestock was catastrophic. Seven of Jordan’s 10 homes were obliterated.

“It sounded like the roar of a train and then silence,” one victim reported. Another outraced the storm in his car. Upon returning, he found his house and barn gone, his red combine rolled up in a ball in a field, and his corn and soybean crop leveled.

The Jordan School after the June 13, 1976, tornado.

The Jordan School after the June 13, 1976, tornado.

Don Stolte was alone at home when the storm struck his farm. Curled up in a corner of his basement, he looked out a window to see a horse from his neighbor’s farm fly across a field.

The June 15 Boone News Republican reported, “Trees were stripped bare and most were whipped about until they looked like sticks struck in the grounds.  The deputy adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, who was helping with cleanup, said: ‘It looks worse than bombed-out areas in Germany during World War II.’ ”

Multiple tornados were sighted in Boone County that afternoon, including one at the junction of Highway 30 and Story Street and another about 200 to 300 feet wide near Ogden. Three farm houses were hit seven miles south of Ogden. Many of the sighted funnels did not touch down.

The tornado that hit Jordan moved up Highway 17, first blowing out windows in Luther.

“As the funnel had traveled it played its variable games. Here a farm completely destroyed, another unharmed. Cattle in the field grazing peacefully, livestock in the next destroyed,” the newspaper reported.

The tornado cut a 15-mile swath, breaking into multiple, smaller twisters as it left Jordan and destroying property in Boone and Story Counties, especially the Story City area. One serious injury and severe property damage, estimated at $500,000, occurred in Story City. About 101 houses and farms in Boone County sustained damage. The June 18 Boone News Republican reported “the Agricultural Stabilization Board set assessed damages at ‘a little over $4 million.’ There is an estimated $1.2 million damage to crops. Over 2,000 acres were totally destroyed and over 4,000 acres had 50 to 75 per cent crop damage.”

The Boone County tornado outbreak was part of a much larger storm system that dumped snow in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana and tornadoes and high winds in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Twisters hit Chicago, killing two people in Lemont, a Chicago suburb, and one in Chicago. Another died in Preston, Minn.

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