Mussel Fork-Callao, MO F4 Tornado – June 12, 1970

SPC Stats:

Path length: 16.1 miles

Width:  400 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  F4

Counties:  Chariton, Macon

Seventeen tornadoes occurred on June 12, 1970 per the Storm Prediction Center Database.  The strongest is the topic of this summary. It was rated F4 and traveled 16-17 miles across parts of Chariton and Macon Counties in Missouri.  This was the first of two tornadoes to hit Macon county on this day.  The second was rated F3.

Per the Storm Data Entry, this tornado "cut a swath of near total destruction".  It began near the Mussel Fork Community and ended 5 miles SSW of Callao.  Buster’s Bridge, a single span of steel girder construction built in 1927, was lifted and dropped into the river  upstream.

Storm Data Entry

An intense tornado cut a swath of near total destruction across more than a dozen farms from the Mussel Fork Community at the junctions of Routes DD and O, 7 miles southwest of Bynumville to a point 1-1/2 miles east and 1 mile south of Bynumville.  

Three home, one mobile trailer, and the barns were totally destroyed.  Five home and ten barns suffered extensive damage.  Some observers in this area reported sighting 2 and 3 funnel clouds at one time appearing at times to be moving in line and at other times abreast.  Hailstones 3 to 4 inches in diameter fell.

From this point, the apparent damage path crossed the open fields of the Chariton River Bottoms as it turned north-northeastward to Buster’s Bridge on the Chariton-Macon County line, 3 miles north of the southwest corner of Macon County.  

Buster’s Bridge, a single span of steel girder construction built in 1927, was lifted bodily and dropped into the river northward (upstream) one span length from its original location.  North northeast of the bridge, extensive damage or destruction of outbuildings, barns and farm machinery occurred on three farms with lesser damage on five others, ending just west of Missouri Highway 3, four miles south of US 36 (5 miles SSW of Callao).

Tornado Path

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the June 1970 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 16.1 mile path length.
  • Grazulis and Storm Data have a length at 17 miles.

Starting Time:

  • SPC/NCDC have a start time of 14:40.
  • Grazulis and Storm Data have a start time of 14:30.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

June 1970 Storm Data Publication

newspapers.com

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1117.