This Strange 1977 NE Missouri Tornado Threw Trailers in the River
It wasn't the largest and didn't do the most damage, but there was a northeast Missouri tornado in 1977 that could easily qualify as one of the strangest the area has ever seen.
The National Weather Service documents this odd EF2 twister that first touched down around 5:30 pm on September 23, 1977. Here's the exact recollection of that tornado from their report (NOTE: I've bolded the strangest parts)
The first evidence of the tornado was 6 miles N of Monroe City where it snapped a huge tree 3 feet from the ground. A garage was blown completely away, leaving the contents on the ground. Other farm buildings were damaged and debris scattered everywhere. The tornado seemed to follow the North River W of Palmyra, and every 100 feet or so, it would sweep the water up about 50 feet in the air. Several other residences and one business in the path were hit, with buildings, barns, houses, and trees damaged. Many of the buildings, including a barn, were a total loss. As the tornado continued NE, two camping trailers located 100 feet from the Mississippi River were blown into the river. The last trace of damage was in Adams County, IL. The sheriff at Palmyra reported that "it looked like two tornadoes floating along together" with, at one time, seven other funnel clouds in the area.
I have my own personal memory of this tornado. My mother told me this was the tornado that nearly killed her. She told me that she was heading toward Monroe City on highway 36 when she saw the tornado headed right for her car. The twister destroyed a billboard and then moved past her in a farm field. It appears she encountered the tornado right after it first touched down. She told me that the tornado came up so quickly there was no time to turn around and flee. It just happened to miss her.
So many strange aspects to this tornado. The water being thrown out of the North River... the camping trailers being thrown into the Mississippi...so many funnel clouds that seemed to be a part of the same system. My guess is that the "two tornadoes floating along together" means it was what we know now as a multiple-vortex twister.
The National Weather Service report says that despite all the many buildings that were affected, the total damage was less than $50,000. Not the biggest, not the most damaging, but I still argue this September 1977 tornado qualifies as one of the strangest in northeast Missouri history.