The Spencer, SD F4 tornado of May 30, 1998 was 1 of 5 tornadoes produced by one supercell that tracked about 30 miles. This destructive tornado had a path length of 14 miles and hit the small town of Spencer (population at the time of 320) destroying most of its 190 buildings. 6 people were killed and 150 were injured. The tornado was estimated to reach a width of a mile.
“My dad was just sucked out and ended up underneath a grain truck. He held on.” – Lorrece Usselman Werner talking about her father Pius, who took shelter in a creamery during the Fort Rice tornado. She was quoted in an article in the Bismarck Tribune.
The supercell that produced this tornado had already spawned an F2 in Harrison County, IN. The storm progressed across the Ohio River and another tornado formed, quickly strengthening. Most of the damage was F3 in Bullitt and Spencer Counties. There was at least one home surveyed by the NWS in Hillview that had F4 damage.
It was an F4 tornado that quickly passed through parts of Muskogee County and the town of Keefeton, OK on May 26, 1973. Eight frame homes and four mobile homes were destroyed. 100+ more suffered some sort of major to minor damage.
Per the Storm Prediction Center, 8 tornadoes occurred on May 25, 2016. Half of those were in Kansas from an isolated supercell. The strongest tornado was a long track EF-4. It began north of Niles, KS and traveled for close to 90 minutes finally dissipating just west of the Dickinson and Geary County line. The estimated peak winds = 180 mph.
Just 2 days after Joplin, another tornado outbreak occurred. There were 48 tornadoes across 6 states with 18 fatalities. The strongest tornado, another EF5, this time in Oklahoma.
Each tornado event we cover is tragic. Someone has lost a family member or friend. Towns are devastated. Some never recover. There are also stories of heroism, community, and hope. Today’s event was one I hadn’t heard of before: The Saragosa, TX F4, May 22, 1987. As I began to read the devastating stories surrounding this event, my heart was immediately broken.