Go West! The Churdan Tornado of 1969

In Historical by Jeff Wilcox

On July 16, 1969, attention had been on Apollo 11’s launch toward an eventual landing on the moon, however that afternoon in the small town of Churdan in northern Greene County, there was more attention to the weather than the Apollo Mission. The day was very warm and humid, with temperatures near 90 and dew points well into the 70s.

Late in the afternoon a thunderstorm developed and moved across Churdan, it didn’t look like a thunderstorm that was going to be severe, in fact there was hardly any wind that day, only a gentle breeze out of the south. As the storm moved east of Churdan a thin rope tornado touched down NE of Churdan and began moving WEST! As the tornado began to move further from the parent thunderstorm it began to become more influenced by the southerly wind and began moving WNW before finally dissipated NNW of Churdan several minutes later. This was one of the very few “Wrong Way” tornadoes to ever occur in Iowa. The Tornado was rated a F1 and was one of only 3 tornadoes to occur in Iowa that day. The other two tornadoes were only briefly on the ground. This tornado proved that some tornadoes don’t go where you think they’ll go.

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