Iowa Tornado

Photograph shows a tornado in Yazoo City, Mississippi?

Claim:   Photograph shows a tornado that killed four Boy Scouts in Iowa in June 2008.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]

I received this image via email June 10, 2008. The location of this tornado was stated to be Charles City, Iowa. Yesterday, June 12, 2008, this image was being passed around again stating it was the tornado from Little Sioux, Iowa that killed 4 Eagle Scouts on the evening of June 11, 2008. I know for a fact this is not the tornado from Little Sioux, Iowa because that area was desolate and this picture shows grain bins and a railroad crossing. I also now wonder if this is a true photo of Charles City, Iowa. If you would please see if you can track down the origin of this photo and if it is a true photo. The emails are going around with this picture saying “I would be scared too if I was a Boy Scout” It is sad someone is turning this around. And common sense shows this is not the Little Sioux, Iowa storm because of the items shown in the picture are not on location of the Scout Camp location which is located in the woods and had flat land and lodges.


Variations:   An April 2010 variant claimed this photograph was snapped in Yazoo City, Mississippi, that month:

You may have already seen this picture in the news. The deputy sheriff in
Yazoo City took this yesterday. It was a mile wide and ripped across from
Tallulah, LA to Eagle Lake, then Yazoo City, Durant MS, Starkville and
then to TN. It as an F4.

In April 2011, this picture was circulated as a photo of a tornado that hit Georgia, Tennessee, and/or Mississippi on 28 April 2011.

In March 2012, this picture was circulated as a photo of a tornado that hit Harrisburg, Illinois, on 29 February 2012.

In April 2012, this picture was circulated as a photo of a tornado that hit Dallas, Texas, on 3 April 2012.

In May 2014, this picture was circulated as a photo of a tornado that hit Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas, on 27 April 2014.

Origins:   On the evening of 11 June 2008, a tornado that touched down in the border area

between Nebraska and Iowa (about 40 miles north of Omaha) injured dozens of people in those two states and swept through the Little Sioux
Scout Ranch in the remote hills of western Iowa near the town of Blencoe, killing four teenaged Boy Scouts. The above-displayed image has since been circulated with text identifying it as a photograph of that tornado.

However, this picture was already circulating before the deadly tornado struck the Boy Scout ranch, snapped during one of a series of storms, heavy rains, and tornadoes that hit the Midwest that week. It was taken in the northeastern Iowa town of Orchard (near Charles City) the evening before the Blencoe tornado and published in the Mitchell County Press News the following morning:

After a weekend of heavy rain, wind and flooding across Mitchell County, residents received another round of severe weather Tuesday night.

This time, a tornado was sighted and captured on camera in Orchard. Starting about 8:45 p.m., heavy rain began to fall, accompanied by quarter to golf-ball sized hail which lasted for over 10 minutes. Another severe thunderstorm followed with scattered cloud to ground lightning. At 9:04 p.m. a tornado was sighted touching down in Orchard. According to Lori Mehmen of Orchard, who captured the funnel cloud on her digital camera, the twister came near the ground just briefly and then went back up in the clouds. Besides extensive tree and crop damage, no human injuries were reported.

Meteorologists who have viewed this image (as well as other photos and video taken of the same storm) generally agree that it pictures a mesocyclone with a wall cloud, not a true tornado.

Last updated:   7 May 2014


    Lyons, Patrick J.   “A Remarkable Photo from Tornado Country.”

    The New York Times.   13 June 2008.

    Pieper, Mary.   “Twisters and Hail Rumble Through Mitchell County.”

    [Mason City] Globe Gazette.   12 June 2008.

    Stickney, Dane.   “Scout Recalls Loss on ‘Awful Night.'”

    Omaha World-Herald.   15 June 2008.

    Mitchell County Press-News.   “Tornado Sighted in Orchard; Captured on Camera.”

    11 June 2008.

    KTIV-TV [Sioux City].   “Record Set Straight on Tornado Picture.”

    13 June 2008.