National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Charles City Tornado
During the late afternoon and early evening of May 15, 1968, five tornadoes (two F1s, one F2, and two F5s) occurred in Iowa.  These tornadoes were part of the May 15-16, 1968 outbreak (39 tornadoes) which affected ten states.  In Iowa, the tornadoes caused 18 fatalities and 619 injuries.  Since this outbreak, no other tornadoes have produced this many deaths or injuries in Iowa.  There have only been two other F5 or EF5 tornadoes in Iowa since 1968 (Jordan - June 13, 1976, and Parkersburg - May 25, 2008).  The picture above was taken by the Floyd County sheriff (L. L. Lane) at his spotter position on Highway 14.  It shows the tornado when it was 2 miles southwest of Charles City. 

The links below provide more on this historic outbreak and its affects on Charles City, Oelwein, and Maynard, IA. 
May 15-16, 1968
Tornado Outbreak
Iowa Tornadoes in this Outbreak
Weather Conditions which Led to this Outbreak Iowa F5 Tornadoes
Newspapers Stories on the
Charles City, Maynard, & Oelwein
F5 Tornadoes
Personal Accounts of the
Charles City, Maynard, & Oelwein
F5 Tornadoes
Photos of the Charles City
Tornado & Aftermath
NWS La Crosse County Warning Area
Tornado Database