SPC Stats

Path length: 33.7 miles

Width:  880 yards

Fatalities:  21

Injuries:  74

Rating:  F5

County:  St. Croix, Dunn

Five tornadoes occurred on June 4, 1958 in Northwest Wisconsin.  Here is a breakdown of each:

  • F2 – Rusk, Sawyer Counties, 13.8 mile path
  • F3 – Chippewa County, 4.3 mile path
  • F4 – Chippewa County, 11.1 mile path, 3 fatalities
  • F4 – Eau Claire, Clark, Marathon Counties, 59.2 mile path, 4 fatalities
  • F5 – St. Croix, Dun Counties, 33.7 mile path, 21 fatalities

This summary explores the history of the F5.  It was actually the first tornado in this family of twisters.  The tornado moved east from 4 miles SW of Woodville to 1 miles South of Knapp.  It then moved along the north edge of Menomonie.  The tornado made a turn to the ENE and crossed through the south and east parts of Colfax.  

Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, 3 deaths occurred in the early part of the path (before hitting Colfax).  The greatest loss of life occurred in Colfax.  Per Grazulis, at least 15 killed here.  Dozens of homes were leveled.  Before lifting ENE of Colfax, farm houses were demolished.  Two were killed when a car was thrown from Highway 40 near the end of the path.  

Path details from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes.

There are discrepancies on the number of injuries.  More than likely the total exceeded 100 (the SPC only lists 74).  One of those critically injured was a baby girl who was thrown 300 feet into a ditch in Colfax.

I found several newspaper articles that documented some unusual incidents (newspapers clips found later in the summary):

  • A neatly folded insurance policy was blown from a farm just south of Knapp to a rural Sheldon farm about 75-80 miles to the northeast.  The policy owner was killed by the tornado.
  • A woman was found with a 1/2 inch diameter stick embedded in her skull.
  • Furnishings in one home were thrown about yet on the kitchen table were a dozen eggs in a paper container untouched.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 44.90 / -92.33   End:  45.05 / -91.67     

The SPC/NCDC coordinates seem to place the latter part of the track too far north.  Per the research of Thomas Grazulis, the tornado moved SW of Woodville, South of Knapp, hit north edge of Menomonie and then turned ENE to hit south and east parts of Colfax.  The official latitude and longitude points take the track north of Colfax.  Note:  I read a few other accounts that there was damage on the north side of Colfax as well.  CDNS mentioned “two funnels” but place them both south of Colfax.  Perhaps there was another tornado not accounted for?  Regardless, the ending part of this path should be shifted south.

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

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the June 1958 Climatological Data National Summary (CDNS) and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Rating:

  • Grazulis has an F4 rating for this tornado.
  • SPC/NCDC list F5 rating.

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 33.7 mile path.
  • CDNS and Grazulis list a 32 mile path.

Width:

  • Grazulis has a width of 800 yards.
  • Remaining sources list 880 yards.

Injuries:

  • SPC/NCDC list 74 injuries.
  • CDNS and Grazulis have 110 injuries.

Fatalities:

  • SPC/NCDC list 21 fatalities.
  • CDNS has 19 fatalities.
  • Grazulis lists 20 killed.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      June 1958 Climatological Data National Summary

      newspapers.com

      Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1015.

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