20 Years Ago, 67 Tornadoes Touched Down in South Dakota in 1 Day
June 24, 2003. Twenty years ago this week South Dakota endured an outbreak of tornados on what came to be known as 'Tornado Tuesday.'
The twisters just kept dropping out of the eastern South Dakota skies that evening. It was part of several days of severe storms over the central US that produced 125 tornados in South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa.
2003 Tornado Tuesday Outbreak in South Dakota
After a long summer day, people of the Sioux Empire were settling in for supper on the evening of June 24. Little did they know that 67 tornados were getting ready to rip through South Dakota over an eight-hour period.
"Everyone at the office knew we were going to have severe weather that day," meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls Greg Harmon said in 2008, "but I don’t think anyone was expecting anything close to a record tornado event; especially since we live in an area that usually sees 24 tornadoes during a year."
Luckily, there were no deaths in South Dakota that night and just a few injuries.
How Big Were the Tornado Tuesday Tornados?
Most of the tornados that touched down on Tornado Tuesday were on the smaller side, mostly EF1 or EF0. With winds around 75-120 mph. Those twisters can still cause some damage, though. There were also a handful of EF2 twisters with winds of 113–157 mph.
Two of the strongest tornados on that Tuesday in 2003 were a pair of EF3s. One touched down at about 5:20 PM near Woonsocket, SD. It tore a path of destruction six miles long eating buildings, damaging homes, and ripping up farmland.
The other EF3 was in Beadle County, SD in the Cavour area at about 8:30 PM. Buildings in Cavour were damaged, trees were ripped up, and 120 mph winds were measured on top of a grain elevator.
Tornado Tuesday Destroyed Manchester, South Dakota
But the main event of Tornado Tuesday 2003 in South Dakota was the EF4 tornado that destroyed the town of Manchester, SD in Kingsbury County. The twister produced winds estimated to be up to 260 miles per hour.
Its 10-mile-long trek on the ground injured five but didn't kill anyone. Every structure in Manchester was damaged or destroyed. Leaving the small town of less than 50 people a ghost town.
Did Sioux Falls Get Any Tornados on Tornado Tuesday?
Two EF1s and an EF0 tornado touched down in Minnehanna County on Tornado Tuesday, near Pumpkin Center, Hartford, and Renner.
Lincoln County, South Dakota saw 13 twister touchdowns on Tornado Tuesday, including four near Tea, South Dakota, and one just north of Harrisburg.