Thursday marks 15-year anniversary of Parkersburg-New Hartford, IA EF5 tornado

(ABC 6 News) – On May 25, 2008, a, large and destructive tornado tore a 43-mile-long path across Butler and Black Hawk Counties in northeast Iowa.

The tornado was on the ground for approximately 43 miles growing to three-quarters of a mile wide as it moved through the southern end of Parkersburg at 4:56 p.m. packing winds estimated at 205 mph. A third of the town experienced catastrophic damage with nearly 200 homes destroyed. The high school, elementary school and numerous buildings and businesses suffered significant damage.

The tornado maintained size and intensity as it moved toward New Hartford. At 5:09 p.m., the storm moved just north of New Hartford, once again causing incredible structural and tree damage. The tornado weakened east of New Hartford with lesser damage as it pushed through portions of northern Black Hawk County, just north of the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.

The tornado then re-intensified and grew to nearly 1.2 miles wide north of Dunkerton causing substantial damage to a farmstead there. The tornado dissipated just before leaving Black Hawk County at 5:50 p.m.

The tornado killed 9 people — 7 in Parkersburg, 1 in New Hartford, and 1 north of New Hartford — and injured at least 50 while causing millions of dollars in damage.

The tornado was rated an EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This was the first EF5 to strike Iowa since the Jordan (Story County) tornado on June 13, 1976.

EF5 tornadoes are incredibly rare. They account for less than 1% of tornado occurrences in the United States.