Path length: 26 miles
Width: 250 yards
It is the deadliest Independence Day tornado on record and one of the deadliest in North Dakota’s modern history (U.S. Tornadoes): The Elgin, ND F4 tornado of July 4, 1978. The tornado caused extensive damage in the small town. There were 5 fatalities. Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, approximately 45 homes/trailers were damaged or destroyed. Storm Data mentions the tornado did skip. It traveled for an hour slowly through Grant County.
Additional Details from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes
- Approx. 45 homes or trailers were damaged or destroyed.
- 17 blocks were hit in Elgin.
- Two of the deaths were in a pickup truck.
- Two deaths were in a car, pieces of which were found mile away from the road.
- One death was in a recreational vehicle.
Note: I have attached a newspaper article in the clips section below entitled “Storm Areas’ Cleanup Begins”, that shows 2 deaths did occur in a pickup truck but that 2 deaths were actually in senior citizen housing. Could not find details on the 5th death.
Click Map To Enlarge
SPC coordinates: Start: 46.40 / -101.88 End: 46.40 / -101.33
Note: Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.
Image via State Historical Society of North Dakota
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the July 1978 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- SPC/NCDC have a 26 mile path length.
- Storm Data has a 28.9 miles path length.
- Grazulis rounds up to 28 miles.
- Storm Data has a range of widths from 200-300 yards.
- Remaining sources list 250 yard width.
July 1978 Storm Data Publication
U.S. Tornadoes Article on Independence Day Tornadoes
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1204.
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