Stratton-McCook, NE F4 Tornado – June 15, 1990

Looking WSW from a farm several miles WNW of Culbertson, NE of the rotating tornadic thunderstorm that produced the Stratton-McCook F4 tornado.  The house on the farm were this picture was taken was later destroyed by the tornado.  Photo from Calvin Brown via the June 1990 Storm Data Publication.

SPC Stats:

Path length: 28 miles

Width:  2640 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  1

Rating:  F4

Counties:  Hitchcock, Red Willow

7 out of the 11 tornadoes that occurred on June 15, 1990 were in the state of Nebraska.  The strongest was an F4 that grew at times to be 1.5 miles wide.  It began just NW of Stratton.  It was a multi-vortex tornado at this time that merged near Macklin Bay on Swanson Lake.  It moved ENE and lifted after a 28 mile path 5 miles NE of McCook.

Most of the structural damage was in Hitchcock County.  35 rural houses were damaged/destroyed.  There was one injury and no fatalities.

It was reported that the tornado picked up water and mud from Swanson Lake and threw it up against the SW side of buildings, trees and poles nearby.

Storm Data Entry

A multi-vortex (three separate tornadoes from the same cloud) tornado touched down on the northwestern edge of Stratton.  They merged near Macklin Bay on Swanson Lake.  The tornado moved east-northeast at 25-30 mph.  It lifted out 5 miles northeast of McCook.
35 rural houses were damaged or destroyed in Hitchcock County along with numerous outbuildings, vehicles, trees and power poles.  Damage was estimated over $632,000.  All communication with Hitchcock County was lost for about 4 hours and all highways into the county were closed to aid clean-up efforts.  The only injury was a shoulder injury to an elderly woman on a farm.
Crop damage in Hitchcock county:  $600,000 to wheat; $500,000 to corn; $115,000 to milo; $25,000 to pasture land for an estimated total of $1,240,000.  
Red Willow County had four farm houses and outbuildings, four mobile homes, and major high voltage power lines damaged or destroyed.  Apparently the tornado picked up water from Swanson Lake, as dried mud 1-2 inches thick caked the southwest side of the buildings, trees, and poles that were left standing in central Hitchcock County.

Tornado Path


We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the June 1990 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:


  • Grazulis has a width of 1500 yards.
  • SPC/NCDC have a width of 2640 yards (1.5 miles).
  • Storm Data has a range of widths from 1 mile to 1.5 miles.


The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

June 1990 Storm Data Publication

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1301.