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View Full Version : 1976-06-13 Jordan, Iowa and Lemont, Illinois tornadoes



MatthewCarman
02-21-2010, 10:56 PM
I never really studied the Jordan, Iowa tornado before today and found little information on it but I thought it was a very interesting tornado because of it's "U" shaped damage path. I also found another tornado on the same day that hit Lemont, Illinoise and had a "J" shaped damage path. The tornado even went back over it's path for awhile. Both tornadoes had anticyclonic satellite tornadoes. I was wondering if anyone else found these tornadoes interesting and could explain why the tornadoes had unique damage paths. Here is the information I could find on the tornadoes and none of it is copied/pasted.


June 13, 1976: This was a very tragic day for the town of Jordan Iowa. As Dr. Fujita described the Jordan,
Iowa tornado he said it was the most intense and destructive tornado he had ever studied. The tornado hit the town of Jordan in Boone County, Iowa and destroyed every single building in the town. Thankfully nobody was killed. The tornado touched down 3 miles southwest of Luther and tracked northeast. The tornado turned to the north as it moved north of Luther and moved through the town of Jordan. The tornado then turned to the northwest creating a “U” shaped damage path. After that is turned again and moved east over the county line and may have continued all the way to Sioux City. While a damage path is evident this could also be from microburst’s and it is unknown if the tornado made it to Sioux City where F0-F1 wind damage occurred to most of the city. Four tornadoes touched down in Boone County on this day rated as 1 F5tornado, 2 F3 tornadoes and 1 F2 tornado. The Jordan tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes and had an anti cyclonic satellite tornado rated as an F3 tornado.


On the same day Lemont in Cook County, Illinois was struck by a violent F4 tornado that also had two anti cyclonic satellite tornadoes. Lemont Illinois took a direct hit at 5:18 PM. The tornado destroyed 87 houses and damaged 82 more houses. The tornado injured 23 people and killed 3 more people. Three people took shelter in a ditch and only two of them survived the tornado. Houses were picked up and then exploded and imploded according to witnesses. What is interesting about this tornado is the “J” shape damage path. After the tornado passed through Lemont witnesses said the tornado started moving back towards the town before turning and missing the town. The tornado ended 5 miles from where it started. The tornado had a speed of 10 MPH and a damage path of 10 miles. At one point of the tornadoes life time it was nearly stationary. The tornado affected Dupage and Cook County in Illinois.


Another F4 tornado struck Cook County on April 21, 1967 striking the towns of Oak Lawn and Belvidere and Chicago. Chicago’s south side was hit before the tornado moved over Lake Michigan. Five F4 tornadoes occurred on this day with 3 of them in Illinois, 1 in Michigan and 1 in Missouri.

Darrin Rasberry
02-22-2010, 08:32 PM
June 13, 1976: This was a very tragic day for the town of Jordan Iowa. As Dr. Fujita described the Jordan,
Iowa tornado he said it was the most intense and destructive tornado he had ever studied. The tornado hit the town of Jordan in Boone County, Iowa and destroyed every single building in the town. Thankfully nobody was killed. The tornado touched down 3 miles southwest of Luther and tracked northeast. The tornado turned to the north as it moved north of Luther and moved through the town of Jordan. The tornado then turned to the northwest creating a “U” shaped damage path. After that is turned again and moved east over the county line and may have continued all the way to Sioux City. While a damage path is evident this could also be from microburst’s and it is unknown if the tornado made it to Sioux City where F0-F1 wind damage occurred to most of the city. Four tornadoes touched down in Boone County on this day rated as 1 F5tornado, 2 F3 tornadoes and 1 F2 tornado. The Jordan tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes and had an anti cyclonic satellite tornado rated as an F3 tornado.



Are you sure the damage path was from Jordan to Sioux City? That would be a damage path perhaps longer than the Tri-State tornado.

Dunno where the U-shape damage path would come from, although if the storm was slow-moving such a randomization wouldn't be unheard of. An occlusion, maybe?

MatthewCarman
02-22-2010, 09:40 PM
Are you sure the damage path was from Jordan to Sioux City? That would be a damage path perhaps longer than the Tri-State tornado.

Dunno where the U-shape damage path would come from, although if the storm was slow-moving such a randomization wouldn't be unheard of. An occlusion, maybe?

I read that there was a damage path all the way to Souix City but I read that the damage after Jordan was most likely microbursts. I never found anything that said for sure if it was microburst or tornado damage. Most of Souix City had wind damage in the F0-F1 area.

Kevin Walters
02-23-2010, 12:15 AM
I read that there was a damage path all the way to Souix City but I read that the damage after Jordan was most likely microbursts. I never found anything that said for sure if it was microburst or tornado damage. Most of Souix City had wind damage in the F0-F1 area.

The Jordan tornado dissipated just SW of Story City which is located in Story county North of Ames.

MatthewCarman
02-23-2010, 12:44 AM
The Jordan tornado dissipated just SW of Story City which is located in Story county North of Ames.

Hi Kevin, where did you read this at? I can only find limited information on the event. I do know where Story City is but thanks for letting me know.

GPhillips
02-23-2010, 01:09 AM
The Sioux City must have been a typo. It was Story City.

I can't find it right now, but the book "Tornadoes: Accounts of Tornadoes in Iowa" by John L Stanford had quite a bit written up on this.

http://www.amazon.com/Tornado-Accounts-Tornadoes-John-Stanford/dp/0813803683

MatthewCarman
02-23-2010, 05:46 PM
The Sioux City must have been a typo. It was Story City.

I can't find it right now, but the book "Tornadoes: Accounts of Tornadoes in Iowa" by John L Stanford had quite a bit written up on this.

http://www.amazon.com/Tornado-Accounts-Tornadoes-John-Stanford/dp/0813803683

Here is where I read about Souix City. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/?n=f5tornadoesiniowa As for the F0-F1 wind damage I read that wrong. The story says that happened in Story City but I did not notice that before. I am not sure why Souix City was mentioned but I will take your word and write it off as an error.

Nick Smith
02-24-2010, 08:26 PM
I found this Monthly Weather Review paper from 1980. It's main focus is on the cyclonic/anti-cyclonic tornado pair.

http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F1520-0493%281980%29108%3C1626%3ATICATP%3E2.0.CO%3B2

Brian Stertz
02-24-2010, 08:56 PM
Looks like the sfc low was near Lincoln NE and the tornadic supercell was a WF type on this event. The area was also northeast of the thrmal ridge poke over E.Nebraska.
Very typical mid June conditions...with CAPEs of 5500+ over Iowa.

John Sickels
03-04-2010, 06:53 PM
I saw the Jordan tornado from birth to death...I was eight years old and my parents were taking me to summer camp. We saw the thing touch down and grow into a monster, and we even saw the satellite tornadoes. It was an amazing experience and the thing that gave me a life-long fascination with severe weather.

The first thing I remember about that day was walking out of our house in Des Moines and noting how hot and humid it was.

MatthewCarman
03-04-2010, 09:54 PM
I saw the Jordan tornado from birth to death...I was eight years old and my parents were taking me to summer camp. We saw the thing touch down and grow into a monster, and we even saw the satellite tornadoes. It was an amazing experience and the thing that gave me a life-long fascination with severe weather.

The first thing I remember about that day was walking out of our house in Des Moines and noting how hot and humid it was.

How many satalite tornadoes was there? I read there was only 1 satalite tornado.

John Sickels
03-05-2010, 10:59 AM
I was eight years old back then and I'm no longer sure of the exact chronology, but I remember seeing both a small tornado or vortex circling around the main stovepipe, as well as the famous "satellite" tornado (which I think was the anticyclonic one) a further distance away. We only saw the larger satellite briefly, as my father was busy driving our Buick around trying to avoid getting hit by the storm and dodging hail but still wanting to get a good view.

MatthewCarman
03-05-2010, 01:05 PM
Thanks John. That must have been very exciting for you to watch.

Simon Andersen
03-06-2010, 12:00 AM
How many satalite tornadoes was there? I read there was only 1 satalite tornado.

Read page 10 and look at figure 10 in the paper that was linked earlier in the thread. This part discusses the theory of a third satellite vortex that rotated around the Jordan tornado as it was nearing town. Fascinating read.

MatthewCarman
03-06-2010, 01:33 AM
Read page 10 and look at figure 10 in the paper that was linked earlier in the thread. This part discusses the theory of a third satellite vortex that rotated around the Jordan tornado as it was nearing town. Fascinating read.

I checked the links and never saw any discusion about a second satallite tornado but I will check again.

fredhopkinsiii
03-26-2010, 06:15 PM
I never really studied the Jordan, Iowa tornado before today and found little information on it but I thought it was a very interesting tornado because of it's "U" shaped damage path. I also found another tornado on the same day that hit Lemont, Illinoise and had a "J" shaped damage path. The tornado even went back over it's path for awhile. Both tornadoes had anticyclonic satellite tornadoes. I was wondering if anyone else found these tornadoes interesting and could explain why the tornadoes had unique damage paths. Here is the information I could find on the tornadoes and none of it is copied/pasted.


June 13, 1976: This was a very tragic day for the town of Jordan Iowa. As Dr. Fujita described the Jordan,
Iowa tornado he said it was the most intense and destructive tornado he had ever studied. The tornado hit the town of Jordan in Boone County, Iowa and destroyed every single building in the town. Thankfully nobody was killed. The tornado touched down 3 miles southwest of Luther and tracked northeast. The tornado turned to the north as it moved north of Luther and moved through the town of Jordan. The tornado then turned to the northwest creating a “U” shaped damage path. After that is turned again and moved east over the county line and may have continued all the way to Sioux City. While a damage path is evident this could also be from microburst’s and it is unknown if the tornado made it to Sioux City where F0-F1 wind damage occurred to most of the city. Four tornadoes touched down in Boone County on this day rated as 1 F5tornado, 2 F3 tornadoes and 1 F2 tornado. The Jordan tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes and had an anti cyclonic satellite tornado rated as an F3 tornado.


On the same day Lemont in Cook County, Illinois was struck by a violent F4 tornado that also had two anti cyclonic satellite tornadoes. Lemont Illinois took a direct hit at 5:18 PM. The tornado destroyed 87 houses and damaged 82 more houses. The tornado injured 23 people and killed 3 more people. Three people took shelter in a ditch and only two of them survived the tornado. Houses were picked up and then exploded and imploded according to witnesses. What is interesting about this tornado is the “J” shape damage path. After the tornado passed through Lemont witnesses said the tornado started moving back towards the town before turning and missing the town. The tornado ended 5 miles from where it started. The tornado had a speed of 10 MPH and a damage path of 10 miles. At one point of the tornadoes life time it was nearly stationary. The tornado affected Dupage and Cook County in Illinois.


Another F4 tornado struck Cook County on April 21, 1967 striking the towns of Oak Lawn and Belvidere and Chicago. Chicago’s south side was hit before the tornado moved over Lake Michigan. Five F4 tornadoes occurred on this day with 3 of them in Illinois, 1 in Michigan and 1 in Missouri.

I'm a new member - I watched this tornado from a very good vantage point and remember it and the overall weather ...[very] vivedly. I'm not sure if I'm restricted from replying.

Thanks

Bobby Prentice
03-27-2010, 11:31 AM
Here is some information on these June 13, 1976 Iowa and Illinois tornadoes.

http://www.public.iastate.edu/%7Eatmos/images/jordan.gifJordan, IA F5 tornado, June 13, 1976

http://www.tornado-pictures.net/tornadoillinois332.jpgLemont, Illinois F4 tornado, June 13, 1976

YouTube video clip- Jordan, IA F5 and F3 tornadoes; Lemont, IL F4 tornado from June 13, 1976 (from Tornado Video Classics by The Tornado Project (Tom Grazulis)) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khQ1VkzdQJw)



IA JUN 13, 1976 1425CST 0killed 9injured 800yd 17miles F5
BOONE/STORY counties-This tornado first appeared as "the spinning underside of a saucer" and touched down 3m SW of Luther. The tornado moved NE, passing 1m N of Luther, where it turned to the N. The massive funnel then passed through and destroyed the hamlet of Jordan. The funnel then curved to the NW, then made a 110 degree turn, and moved due E to just over the county line. From there damage was continuous to Story City, but not everyone agrees whether that damage was from microbursts or tornadoes. About 75% of Story City had some kind of wind damage, mostly F0. The F4 and F5 damage was in rural areas in and near Jordan. Hundreds of animals on nearby farms were killed. The tornado was on the ground for about an hour. The unusual U-shaped path was probably caused by an interaction with some manner of cold air outflow from the parent thunderstorm. (NOTE: Page 1186 of Grazulis's book shows Fujita's damage survey of this tornado and it's anticyclonic sister listed next)

IA JUN 13, 1976 1440CST 0killed 0injured 300yd 5miles F3
STORY county-This anticyclonic tornado moved NNW from 6miles E of Boone. After a three-mile-long path, it made a U-shaped turn similar to that of the previous tornado made. This track was just east of the larger and more destructive tornado, and more or less parallel to it. The official analysis of this tornado has it originating 2m NW of Luther and its end 1mile S of Gilbert. The latter part in that path is microburst 4miles on the Fujita analysis. All events in this group of tornadoes together killed or injured 2000 hogs, 500 cattle, 50 sheep and 6,000 turkeys. All the events together destroyed 23 homes and damaged 78 others.

IL JUN 13, 1976 1618CST 2killed 23injured 800yd 8miles F4
COOK/DUPAGE counties-This tornado cut a J-shaped path from Lemont to south of Downers Grove. The first evidence of the tornado was near the railroad tracks, just north of Lemont's downtown area. It traveled SE, then turned to a more easterly course as it reached the eastern edge fo town. It became more intense and inflicted heavy damage on the Hillcrest subdivision along McCarthy Road. Homes were left in total ruin. Trees were uprooted, cars were tossed about like toys. It then veered to the N across a golf course to the Des Plaines River. Veering NW, it passed over Argonne National Laboratory, peeling a section of room from the building housing the nuclear reactor. The tornado then crossed I-55, damaging several homes in the subdivision. $13,000,000.


Storm Data severe weather reports map - June 13, 1976 (http://bangladeshtornadoes.org/UScases/061376/061376pth.gif)
Surface Analysis Chart - 19Z, June 13, 1976 (http://bangladeshtornadoes.org/UScases/061376/06137619zsf.gif)
500 Millibar Chart - 12Z, June 13, 1976 (http://bangladeshtornadoes.org/UScases/061376/06137612zh5.gif)
Omaha, NE Sounding (modified) - 12Z, June 13, 1976 (http://bangladeshtornadoes.org/UScases/061376/061376dsmsnd.gif)

fredhopkinsiii
03-28-2010, 11:05 AM
I never really studied the Jordan, Iowa tornado before today and found little information on it but I thought it was a very interesting tornado because of it's "U" shaped damage path. I also found another tornado on the same day that hit Lemont, Illinoise and had a "J" shaped damage path. The tornado even went back over it's path for awhile. Both tornadoes had anticyclonic satellite tornadoes. I was wondering if anyone else found these tornadoes interesting and could explain why the tornadoes had unique damage paths. Here is the information I could find on the tornadoes and none of it is copied/pasted.


June 13, 1976: This was a very tragic day for the town of Jordan Iowa. As Dr. Fujita described the Jordan,
Iowa tornado he said it was the most intense and destructive tornado he had ever studied. The tornado hit the town of Jordan in Boone County, Iowa and destroyed every single building in the town. Thankfully nobody was killed. The tornado touched down 3 miles southwest of Luther and tracked northeast. The tornado turned to the north as it moved north of Luther and moved through the town of Jordan. The tornado then turned to the northwest creating a “U” shaped damage path. After that is turned again and moved east over the county line and may have continued all the way to Sioux City. While a damage path is evident this could also be from microburst’s and it is unknown if the tornado made it to Sioux City where F0-F1 wind damage occurred to most of the city. Four tornadoes touched down in Boone County on this day rated as 1 F5tornado, 2 F3 tornadoes and 1 F2 tornado. The Jordan tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes and had an anti cyclonic satellite tornado rated as an F3 tornado.

...




Matthew I watched the "Jordan Tornado" from an interesting vantage point, from the roof of a 100' foot manufacturing/warehouse/office on the Skunk River bluffs just north of "Old US 30"/Lincoln Highway/Lincolnway just west of I-35, and just north of the CNW mainline.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2710/4470022778_dd1131c9a0_o.jpg

Here, courtesy Mapquest, is a roadmap with rivers including the Skunk River and Squaw Creek.

Luther Ia is just south of Jordan, and Boone as well as what, the Racoon River are west of and to the left of this map. I used the Mapquest features to include Gilbert and Story City.

Here is the same Mapquest with Aerial viewhttp://farm3.static.flickr.com/2757/4469246913_3d42283ac5_o.jpg


Ames, Boone, and Jordan in between were on the C&NW mainline and when one of the first transcontinental highways was built that was the "Lincoln Highway" later named US30 and locally known across the country as "Lincolnway".

Iowa was plotted and surveyed before it was settled for the most part which is why the twentieth and twenty-first century road system as well as the layout of the counties on the state map is very much like a checkerboard.

In 1976 TV Stations were pretty much the only ones with and who could afford Video Cameras, The 'worldwideweb' was still only available to Darpa associates, and technologies and facilities we take for granted today were rare. There were cameras but no digital cameras for example.

I was working in the Engineering Dept and had worked previously for the head of plant maintenance - the group responsible for access to the roof.

What got us up to the roof that day and time was not "the tornado' so much as the sky and the weather:

Horizontal visibility was +15 miles, basically clear to the horizon but with both a very strong "bad feel to the air" and a very distinctive large weather feature.

The feature most pronounced for us was a nasty and windy cloud deck at what I gather to have been 5500 ft, at the time it was high enough that we had a clear view from west-southwest to north for a good 20 miles.

I expect everyone with any sort of weather interest has a handful of memories of a one of those seasick green cloud decks that looks more like an upside down very choppy sea than it does a cloud. What drew us to the roof was a sky like that way beyond normal Iowa summertime humidity. What was distinctive about it in the context of the Jordan Tornado discussion was that the "choppy sea" cloud deck was itself in a 20 mile diameter circular rotation.

We were not in any rain when we watched. When we were on the roof what we could see at a distance were what seemed to be locally heavy downpours at 5 to 10 miles.

We caught one very dark 'column' that appeared to be south of the residential area of west Ames. That particular column kicked up a debris V. One of the guys on the roof recognized it as a Tornado at that and with that we went back down to the office. That was the Jordan tornado maybe 5 miles west of where it appeared to be. Locally the tornado predated the public acceptance and usage of the Fujita scale, it appeared to us as a "Definite Tornado" and appeared to be on a course for the western residential areas of Ames.

On the maps Gilbert is next to US 69 north of Ames and Story City is east of US 69 north of our location and Ames on I-35. The "choppy sea rotating cloud deck' was west and north of us, bordered across the valley near Jordan, and also Gilbert north of Ames and mentioned in the archives.

In the immediate days after the Tornado we heard that a TV Channel 13 Cameraman resided or happened to be near Luther Ia at the start and managed to get footage that was very valuable as a research resource.
We heard at the time that they were able to get much better windspeed estimates from this tornado from what they had previously. My recollection is the news estimates at the time were 300+MPH - that may seem exaggerated given the weather radar technology today, but remember that technology wasn't around in '76.

It was in this post 'today' that I discovered that Professor Fujita included the Jordan Tornado in his research. That/he was the other thing that was 'not common knowledge' in 1976.

Very Interesting subject, brings back alot of memories - I'm just sorry I don't have any personal "JPG's" or "Videos" to post.

The Storm ended up dropping tropical amounts of rain just outside Story City - my recollection in the valley where the I-35 Scenic Overlook is on I-35.

On the maps Sioux City is west-northwest of the map maybe 100 miles distant - my recollection does not include anything about this storm heading towards Sioux City while Story City was at the North-northeast edge of the system when the Jordan tornado struck.


BTW the plant 'shelter points' were structures inside the facility and that was where we were after the observations.

MatthewCarman
03-28-2010, 03:03 PM
Thanks for that information Bobby. I just bought both significant tornado books recently for more information myself on events like this one.

Fred you must have an amazing sight being on the roof and watching the storm. Thanks for the story. I have enjoyed the discusion we have had on this event.

Ps. The tornado moved to Story City and not Souix City. That was a mistake from the weather site I was getting information from.

James Hammett
03-28-2010, 06:30 PM
Here's the event on the TornadoHistoryProject map:

http://tinyurl.com/yamulof

You can see the approximate paths that the satellite tornado(es) took. I know a guy who was camping at Ledges State Park just a few miles north of where the F5 touched down when this was unfolding. He experienced some hail at his location but it sure beat involuntarily experiencing the inflow on this beast ;)

Jeff Duda
03-28-2010, 06:49 PM
I read the 1980 paper and from that have formed something of a personal theory as to the paths tornadoes take.

Everything in meteorology is part of a giant fractal of scales. Planetary scale motions contain synoptic scale motions which contain mesoscale motions which contain microscale motions, and smaller and smaller into the realm of atomic motions. While the large scale track of a tornado is directly related to the track of its parent thunderstorm, the track of the tornado on the smaller scale is directly related to the track of its parent mesocyclone and of the motions of the mesocyclone. Imagine a column of air 4 km in diameter rotating at say 10^-2 rad/s. These are typical values for mesocyclone properties. Then imgaine a 1 km diameter tornado doing its own thing somewhere below the mesocyclone. If the axis of the tornado coincides with the axis of the mesocyclone, the tornado will more or less directly follow the path of the mesocyclone. However, if the axis does not coincide, then the tornado will take a path that wobbles much like that of a cycloid. It will wobble farther around some center line the bigger the mesocyclone is and the farther from the center of the mesocyclone the tornado is. I'm pretty sure that's what the Jordan tornado did. When it took that sudden turn from NNW to ESE it probably reached a kink on the "cycloid" it was following.

This also explains why many tornadoes weave to the left near the ends of their lives. They revolve around a cyclonically rotating mesocyclone which would cause them to veer left gradually, but the veering would be more apparent the longer the tornado lives, and thus would be most apparent near the end of the tornado's life. The mirror image theory would lend itself to say that tornadoes spawned from anticyclonic supercells would tend to veer right.