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For some reason I was under the impression that the major 21st century update to Significant Tornadoes was already out, but it isn't. Really curious to see what old man Grazulis has to say about Vilonia. Hope he and his team had access to all the photos recently posted here.
Yeah I'm curious to see his take on Chapman, Rochelle, Washington, Camp Crook, and a lot of the 4/27 tornadoes too. IIRC the new edition goes to 2019, which is kind of a shame since there's obviously been a lot of botched ratings since then.
 

eric11

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It's a pretty strong contender for the most violent tornado in Iowa's history, which is saying something.
Apart from what Parkersburg did in downtown, the damage near New Hartford is definitely eye-catching
This is the Oak Hill Cemetery in New Hartford
Nearly 100% tombs were toppled, some tombs were actually dug out and missing, a large stone pagoda was toppled. Low-lying shrubbs near the cemetery were uprooted and suffered extreme debarking.
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Large, over 40 years old coniferous pine trees were almost complete debarked.Not a populated area here, so finishing extreme debarking is way more difficult than in town.
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Extreme wind rowing just behind the Cemetery, a mixture of automobile parts, building materials, and debarked hardwood branches wind rowed against a cedar tree.
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A car engine in the field
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This is what Oak Hill Cemetery looks like in the air.
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locomusic01

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Apart from what Parkersburg did in downtown, the damage near New Hartford is definitely eye-catching
This is the Oak Hill Cemetery in New Hartford
Nearly 100% tombs were toppled, some tombs were actually dug out and missing, a large stone pagoda was toppled.
Speaking of cemeteries, I don't know if this is a common thing, but I thought it was super weird. On 5/31/85, the Niles, Atlantic and Beaver Falls tornadoes each struck cemeteries (two of them in Beaver Falls' case) and did significant damage. In every case, there were rumors afterward - sometimes persisting to this day - that the tornado dug up graves and scattered the bodies around. That obviously didn't happen, but it's bizarre and fascinating that the same rumor developed around all four cemeteries.

Incidentally, I can't recall if I mentioned this before but one of the cemeteries struck by the Beaver Falls tornado (near Evans City) is the graveyard featured in the original Night of the Living Dead. It got pretty much destroyed. Apparently one of the headstones was later found embedded into the trunk of a large tree near the perimeter of the cemetery.

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Speaking of cemeteries, I don't know if this is a common thing, but I thought it was super weird. On 5/31/85, the Niles, Atlantic and Beaver Falls tornadoes each struck cemeteries (two of them in Beaver Falls' case) and did significant damage. In every case, there were rumors afterward - sometimes persisting to this day - that the tornado dug up graves and scattered the bodies around. That obviously didn't happen, but it's bizarre and fascinating that the same rumor developed around all four cemeteries.

Incidentally, I can't recall if I mentioned this before but one of the cemeteries struck by the Beaver Falls tornado (near Evans City) is the graveyard featured in the original Night of the Living Dead. It got pretty much destroyed. Apparently one of the headstones was later found embedded into the trunk of a large tree near the perimeter of the cemetery.

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Tombstone embedded in a tree? Can't say I've heard that before with any other tornado.
 

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Tombstone embedded in a tree? Can't say I've heard that before with any other tornado.
Yeah, I'm curious exactly what "embedded" means in this case, but I couldn't find any photos of it. Probably not quite as dramatic as it sounds, but that area wasn't too far from where the tornado hit peak intensity. On the subject of things being embedded into trees, I talked to a guy whose truck in Wheatland was torn apart and a section of the exhaust was, in his words, "stuck halfway into a tree like a spear." Apparently he wanted to just leave it there but the town cut the tree down lol

Something similar also happened to the driveshaft of a woman's car that got completely obliterated in Bridge Creek. Probably the biggest piece of the car that was left intact (more or less), although she remembered finding her purse sitting on the ground near where the car was parked, looking practically untouched.

Tornadoes are weird.
 
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Yeah, I'm curious exactly what "embedded" means in this case, but I couldn't find any photos of it. Probably not quite as dramatic as it sounds, but that area wasn't too far from where the tornado hit peak intensity. On the subject of things being embedded into trees, I talked to a guy whose truck in Wheatland was torn apart and a section of the exhaust was, in his words, "stuck halfway into a tree like a spear." Apparently he wanted to just leave it there but the town cut the tree down lol

Something similar also happened to the driveshaft of a woman's car that got completely obliterated in Bridge Creek. Probably the biggest piece of the car that was left intact (more or less), although she remembered finding her purse sitting on the ground near where the car was parked, looking practically untouched.

Tornadoes are weird.

Yeah I've seen pictures of license plates, steering wheels, etc. embedded into trees so the bit about the exhaust doesn't surprise me.
 

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Photos of damage from the 5/21/1953 Sarnia tornado.
The Sarnia Historical Society has a brief article and a bunch of photos here:

Some day I'd like to dig into this tornado more. It was very likely a tornado family, but I'm really curious how the path actually broke down. IIRC, some of the worst damage from the entire event is supposed to have occurred like 30-40 miles east of Sarnia/Port Huron, but I don't know how well-documented it was (if at all). Seems to have been a pretty interesting event.
 

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The Sarnia Historical Society has a brief article and a bunch of photos here:

Some day I'd like to dig into this tornado more. It was very likely a tornado family, but I'm really curious how the path actually broke down. IIRC, some of the worst damage from the entire event is supposed to have occurred like 30-40 miles east of Sarnia/Port Huron, but I don't know how well-documented it was (if at all). Seems to have been a pretty interesting event.
The pre-1980 Canadian database splits the event into 5 tornadoes, including 3 other violent tornadoes besides Sarnia. Numerous rural homes and farms were destroyed by these other violent tornadoes but I can’t find any other detailed information for now.
 
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Incredible damage around silo factory area outside of Parkeraburg town. Vehicles tossed around and mangled even worser than in town. Tornado likely still maintained peak intensity at this place. QQ截图20200521203405.jpg
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Damage south of the First State Bank in town of Parkeraburg. Trees heavily debarked and houses swept away at subfloor level. One of the strongest winds ever captured by camera on the surface of planet Earth belonged to a security camera on the northeast side of the bank facing to the south where the center of the tornado located.
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Several structures in hardest hit area had their subfloors ripped off inside the town with people died in the basement.
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Cars mangled in the parking lot
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Picture near golf course showed two leveled houses with one built in 2007 and the other built in 2008.Maybe one of most Incredible single residence damage in the history happened on the one built in 2008.
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TH2002

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Some more damage photos from Spencer.
The most intense home damage I can find clearly photographed are a few poorly anchored homes:
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However, it should be noted that the NIST mentions that some well-anchored structures including the post office, fire department, a gas station and some stores were completely removed from their foundations, though as far as I know no close up photos of these structures exist except for the fire station.
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It is interesting to note that the survey mentioned the possibility of large sections of the fire station being hurled intact towards the water tower in the background, possibly contributing to its destruction.
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Fire trucks remained unmoved on the fire station's garage slab, possibly indicative of a multiple vortex tornado, weaker winds, or perhaps both.
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Closeups show bolts. All of the sill plating was removed.

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The apartment building where five of the tornado's six fatalities occurred.

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Perhaps one of the most impressive sights from this tornado was a truck wedged against a splintered and debarked tree.
 

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I think that’s the home that got the tornado an EF4 rating. It was only partially swept clean and there were significant amounts of debris on the other parts of the foundation.
Well that being the case an EF4 rating for that residence would be fine. There is no doubt in my mind however that the tornado was capable of causing EF5 damage at some point, but it probably peaked in an area with no homes or other buildings.
 

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Well that being the case an EF4 rating for that residence would be fine. There is no doubt in my mind however that the tornado was capable of causing EF5 damage at some point, but it probably peaked in an area with no homes or other buildings.
Yeah I have no doubts that the tornado was capable of producing damage stronger than LE EF4 based on the contextuals in some areas.
 

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Yeah that’s the same house pictured in the wiki article, but cropped so the debris pile isn’t visible. But Beauregard was a monster that essentially only hit very frail structures and poor communities, which is largely why it was so deadly. Was by no means a “low-end” EF4.
 

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Damage south of the First State Bank in town of Parkeraburg. Trees heavily debarked and houses swept away at subfloor level. One of the strongest winds ever captured by camera on the surface of planet Earth belonged to a security camera on the northeast side of the bank facing to the south where the center of the tornado located.
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Several structures in hardest hit area had their subfloors ripped off inside the town with people died in the basement.
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Cars mangled in the parking lot
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Picture near golf course showed two leveled houses with one built in 2007 and the other built in 2008.Maybe one of most Incredible single residence damage in the history happened on the one built in 2008.
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I honestly sometimes feel like Parkersburg may have been a Bridge Creek/Smithville-tier tornado, or at least close to it.
 

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Parkersburg is one of the tornadoes that made me realize how futile it is to try and make any kind of "most violent" list. I started one a few years ago and every time I'd check out Parkersburg's damage I'd come away convinced I had to find a spot in the top five for it, but then I'd check some of the other contenders and wonder if I could even fit it into the top 10 lol

Either way, it's pretty firmly in my "historically violent" class of tornadoes.
 

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It's astonishing what Parkersburg did to this type of structure(this big white storage tank?), I'm not quite clear what it is but it's definitely harder and stronger than most of the silos.
Mayfield encountered similar structure(the one at top right) at mid to high end EF4(based on contextual and tree falling pattern) but did no harm to it.
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However, this is what Parkersburg had done.It seems as if the whole tank was pushed hard by the extreme force of winds(or at least some heavy objects impacted it at very high speed)
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Some vague but rare photos shot near Oelwin IA, which I believe it was from Parkersburg's latter part of its lifespan.
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This is near New Hartford.
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Some other car damage in or out of town

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