Tracy Tornado
Credit: google images

Fujita Scale Classification F5

The Fujita Scale is a classification system used to categorize the intensity of Tornadoes.  One of the worst tonadoes is an F5, which according to the Fujita Scale is considered an “Incredible Tornado.”  This type of Tornado has a wind speed of 261-318 mph.  The damage that can be caused by this incredible weather phenomenon would be objects the size of cars flying through the air like missles in over 100 meters.  Reenforced concrete building would have severe damage and homes would likely be obliterated.

The F5 Is Coming

The sounds of sirens were heard around Tracy, Minnesota around 6:55pm on June 13, 1968.   This lucky break was the only alert the town got that a F5 tornado was coming.  One of the farmers from the town observed the tornado and phoned the local fire department to warn them of the approaching storm.  According to reports from many of the survivors, as soon as the heard the warning, they begin to take shelter.  When the storm hit it covered over two miles and damaged almost a two block path before disintegrating out of town about 5 miles.  The town was without electricity, water or phones for several hours.  No one was prepared for the destruction they would see in their town. 


The casualties were many with 13 dead and 11 that were seriously injured.  After the Red Cross arrived they reported another 16 people hospitalized and over 60 houses destroyed by the twister.  As the searches continued the next day, bodies were found in open fields, near cars, and some in vehicles.  Most of the homes had completely disappeared right off of the foundation.  Some homes had only plumbing left and unrecognizable while others were not touched.  Two railcars were picked up off the tracks and sent flying over three blocks away from the tracks. 

Eyewitness Accounts

Some of the survivors recounted their stories for the local paper; which shows just how powerful and destructive the Tracy Storm was.  Sisters, Linda Tordsen and Pam Haugen remember their experience as if it were yesterday.  Pam was eight years old at the time and was visiting her sister Linda’s home when the storm hit.  Pam recalled hearing the town whistle blow as the tornado neared the town.  “Big old hailstones” started to fall; Pam said “The willow tree in the front yard was bent over almost to the ground. It looked like a juniper.”  As Linda got her adopted daughter down in the basement, Pam was sucked out of the basement door.  The tornado blew Pam down the street and then pulled her back up the street.  Pam said she felt as if a big monster had come and flattened everything around her.  Believe it or not Pam survived, but unfortunately Linda’s baby did not.  Baby Nancy was sucked right out of Linda’s arms and killed.  Linda was also seriously injured and remained in the hospital for quite a while.

The elementary school principal was lucky.  His kids were home with him that day and as they heard the siren of the approaching storm they went to the basement and were all saved.  After the tornado disappeared the principal and one of the school janitors went to check on the school.  They were saddened to find the old school flattened but the newly built records room was still intact.


This was one of the two strongest tornadoes to ever hit Minnesota.  Even though 44 years have passed since the storm; the power and fury of this F5 Tornado on the small town of Tracy is still a difficult reminder of nature wild side.