SPC Stats

Path length: 16 miles

Width:  280 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  35

Rating:  F5

County:  Nobles, Murray

This was a rather difficult summary to write in terms of gathering the details. I found some discrepancies in the records.  I am going to focus on the impacts the F5 had on the town of Chandler but want to give an overview of some of the things I found.

Per the Storm Prediction Center Database, there were 67 tornadoes on June 16, 1992.  27 of them were in the state of Minnesota.  The Storm Data entry begins this F5 tornado 2 miles South of Leota and ends the path 6 miles NE of Chandler.  I could not find any detail on the damage in the June 1992 Publication, only minimal information.

I found a National Weather Service Sioux Falls Summary on this event.  It states the tornado developed in extreme NW Nobles County, near Leota.  It moved south of Chandler (Murray County) then hit a residential area west of Chandler. Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes states the same.

So far, we are good on details. There is an issue with the official SPC coordinates.  I have plotted that in the map section below.  The coordinates are incorrect.  They move the track east of Chandler toward Hadley.  Based on the narratives I have found, the damage was south and west of Chandler.

SPC/NCDC/Storm Data and Grazulis state this F5 moved 16 miles TOTAL and then have a separate tornado rated F4 that moved from 4 miles SSE to 3 miles North of Lake Wilson.  They then list 3 other tornadoes that moved through parts of Murray and Lyon Counties. 

The NWS Summary, though, does not have separate paths but a continuous one.  In fact, they state the “Chandler-Lake Wilson” tornado tracked 35 miles TOTAL for over an hour.  Below the SPC map for the F5, I have attached the NWS Summary map showing their continuous path with the different ratings.  It is unclear how many of the 5 separate tornadoes make up their continuous path.

So, was there a continuous path from Nobles County into Murray County and ending in Lyon County like the NWS Summary states?  OR….were there 5 separate tornadoes from one supercell?  The latter seems to be the consensus.  SPC, Storm Data, and Grazulis all have 5 separate tornadoes: The F5 in Nobles/Murray Counties (Hit Chandler); An F4 in Murray County (Hit Lake Wilson); An F2 in Murray County (Near Hadley); An F3 in Murray/Lyon Counties (Moved away from Lake Wilson to West of Tracy); An F2 in Lyon County (Near Tracy).

It may have to be another summary for another day to delve into each separate track, but for now, I am going to focus on the 16-mile track from NW Nobles County near Leota into Murray County and what happened in the town of Chandler.

The June 1992 Storm Data Publication did not have a detailed summary of the event.  I looked at a few other months but didn’t see anything submitted late.  If anyone knows where to find the detailed storm survey, please send me a message.

Additional Details from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes

  • Grazulis has a detailed entry in his book about this F5.
  • He states the tornado traveled 16 miles, the width was 300 yards, there were 35 injuries and 1 fatality.
  • It moved NNE from 2 miles South of Leota to 6 miles NE of Chandler.
  • It passed through and destroyed about 1/3 of the town of Chandler.
  • 3 farm houses were destroyed in the Leota area.
  • 4 people were injured in a home 1 miles south of Leota.
  • The tornado hit the west side of Chandler.
  • 40 homes were destroyed in the town.
  • 47 homes, 5 businesses, a church and a school were damaged.
  • A woman was injured by a collapsing wall in her basement.  She passed away 2 months after that occurred.  She was the lone fatality.
  • The Minnesota Agriculture Department issued a warning about dangerous pesticide containers that had been dropped around the area.
  • A check from Chandler was found in Willmar, about 95 miles to the NNE.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 43.80 / -96.02   End:  44.00 / -95.85     

This map reflects the path based on the SPC coordinates.  I believe those are incorrect as the west side of Chandler was hit.  Also, if you compare this with at least the F5 portion of the NWS Summary path (located below the SPC map) you will see a huge difference.   

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Per the NWS Sioux Falls, "The approximate path of the Chandler-Lake Wilson tornado. The tornado rating is located next to the line."

Damage Photos via NWS Sioux Falls

Picture taken southeast of Leota, Minnesota. Courtesy of Gary Baker via NWS Sioux Falls Summary.
Just east of Leota, MN
Just east of Leota, MN
Just east of Leota, MN
Central Chandler business district destroyed by the tornado
Picture of the destruction on the west side of Chandler.
Picture of the destruction on the west side of Chandler.
Picture of the Don and Debbie Buys residence after the tornado moved through Chandler.
Picture of the street sign at 4th and Carlton.
A house totally destroyed. Three people in this house and no injuries.


Newspaper Clippings


The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

June 1992 Storm Data Publication

NWS Sioux Falls Summary


Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1331.

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