Many of us in eastern Iowa know the devastation tornadoes can bring to communities. This year makes a decade since the Parkersburg-New Hartford-Dunkerton tornado.
The EF-F tornado ripped through portions of Butler and Black Hawk County on Sunday, May 25, 2008, the day before Memorial Day, leaving dozens of miles of complete devastation in its wake.
The tornado touched down on the Butler and Grundy County line, just two miles south of Aplington. It quickly grew to be 3/4 of a mile wide, packing wind speeds of up to 205 mph as it moved through the southern end of Parkersburg. One hundred to two hundred homes were destroyed before the tornado moved on to the north side of New Hartford, causing extensive damage to farmlands and buildings.
As the tornado continues to move to the east side of New Hartford, it weakened a bit, but continued its damage path as it moved east — to north side of the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. From that point, the tornado grew to more than one mile wide as it moved to the north of Dunkerton, and then lifted before entering Buchanan County.
From start to finish, the tornado was on the ground for an hour and ten minutes, traveling about 43 miles. Nine people were killed, and 50 others were injured. It was the strongest Iowa tornado since the F-5 tornado that touched down in Boone and Story County back in 1976. There have been no EF-5 tornadoes in Iowa since the 25th of May, 2008.
As we approach the ten year anniversary of this devastating tornado, we will be looking back at how far these communities have come in the last decade.