1945: An unusually cool spring and early summer continued across the region as all but one reporting station in Iowa reported a high temperature in the 40s or 50s and nearly the entire state reported lows in the 30s. The lowest reported temperature was 34 F at Rockwell City and Storm Lake. At Des Moines the high temperature was only 48 F which is their coolest high on record in June, the low was 38 F which is their second-coldest June temperature (behind 37 F on June 1, 1889), and the average temperature of 43 F makes this easily their coldest June day on record with the second-coldest being an average of 50 F on multiple occasions. The month would finish as the coolest June on record at Des Moines with an average temperature of only 64.3 F.
1860: One of the worst tornadoes in Iowa history tracked east southeast across central and eastern portions of the state eventually obliterating the town of Camanche just south of Clinton. Severe weather was first reported in western Iowa with large hail falling in Calhoun and Webster counties including 2 inch diameter stones at Fort Dodge. The first tornado damage was reported in Hardin County where the tornado passed just south of Eldora. By the time the storm system reached Cedar Rapids it was observed that there were actually two tornadic storms tracking parallel to each other, with the two tornadoes about 12 miles apart just missing Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon to the north and south. The tornadoes continued east southeastward devastating the small towns of Saint Marys, Lisbon, and Mechanicsville. By the time the storms entered Clinton County the two tornadoes were observed to be 7 miles apart, then they merged somewhere east of Wheatland into a half mile wide funnel that killed 16 people just south of DeWitt. The worst was yet to come as the town of Camanche, nestled along the Mississippi River with a population of about 1200, was virtually wiped off the map by the large tornado before it crossed into Illinois. At least 26 people were killed in that city with more than 150 injured and contemporary press reports stating that “whatever the town was worth, less the real estate, is gone.” The Clinton Herald newspaper reported that a raft traveling down the Mississippi River with 26 people on board was struck by the tornado with only three of them surviving “and they found themselves upon the Illinois shore, not knowing how they reached there, whether through the air or the water.” In total the storm left at least 134 dead, several hundreds injured, and about 2500 homeless along its path through Iowa and into Illinois.
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This post was written by Schnack on June 3, 2012