Tornado of 1984
Wayne county, Iowa
On June 7, 1984, a record 26 tornadoes touched down in Iowa. The previous record was of 14 tornadoes in April 1967. The new record held until 2017, when 30 tornadoes would hit the state. In Wayne County, four tornadoes landed, ranging from an F1 to an F4. The most notable tornado began in Missouri and traveled through Wayne County before ending in Sigourney, Iowa.
The powerful F4 tornado traveled more than 120 miles over a three-hour period, becoming the longest tornado track of the year. Two people were killed by the storm when the storm tossed them from their vehicle. 67 were people injured in Iowa alone. The most damage occurred in the towns of Wright and Delta, Iowa.
The National Weather Service’s account of the storm notes the severe damage. “It was estimated that 100 to 150 farms, plus an untold number of town dwellings and buildings, received moderate to severe damage during the outbreak. An estimate of 75 to 200 million dollars in damage occurred from tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash flooding along with four deaths and 93 injuries.” In 2018, the damage would total 182 to 487 million dollars.
In Wisconsin, the F4 storm that had weakened in Iowa eventually regained strength. By the time it struck down in Barneveld, the tornado had reached F5 status. 36 individuals were killed, and nearly 200 were injured.
While the F4 tornado was the most severe in Iowa, it was not the last that would strike Wayne County that DAY. One last tornado, an F1, would hit during the night. “The last tornado of the day occurred at 0233 GMT striking Nick’s Cafe at the junction of Highways 2 and 65 in Wayne County. The Fl half-mile-path tornado arrived about two hours after the deadly Wright/Delta tornado passed, felling any remains that were still standing.” While no one else was injured, the last tornado brought significant damage.
Outside of the Wayne County, an additional life was lost in Ringgold County during the tornado outbreak. There were 91 individuals injured in Iowa. While Wayne County has a history of tornadoes, the June 7th storms remain the deadliest in the county’s history.
Sources: Print: Charles Myers, “An Overview of the June 7, 1984 Iowa Tornado Outbreak,” National Weather Service, August 1987; on-line: “Today in Weather History: June 7,” KWWL, June 2012.