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Has South Dakota Had a Tornado Like Oklahoma?

Spencer SD Tornado
(National Weather Service/Facebook)

The pictures and video coming out of Moore, Oklahoma in the wake of the EF5 tornado that hit there Monday (May 20) are devastating. It’s something most of us have never experienced (nor want to) but many have wondered if we’ve ever had an event like that in South Dakota.

There are many of us here at our group of radio stations that were on the air May 30, 1998 when we had to say the words “the town of Spencer, South Dakota is gone.” For the most part, it’s true. There was a small portion of town that escaped with minimal damage, but 15 years later, you can still drive out there and see where the tornado ripped through the community, forever altering it’s appearance. According to the National Weather Service here in Sioux Falls, that tornado was an F4, so slightly less damaging than the one that hit Oklahoma.

Have we ever seen an F5? Only once. May 8, 1965 in Tripp County.

But there have been many other big tornadoes:

* May 22, 2010: Bowdle, SD (EF-4)
* June 24, 2003: Manchester, SD (F-4)
* June 23, 2002: Columbia, SD – Brown County (F-4)
* May 30, 1998: Spencer, SD (F-4)
* June 7, 1993: Colman, SD (F-4)
* June 7, 1993: Junius, SD (F-4)
* July 7, 1969: Buffalo, SD (F-4)
* June 7, 1965: Viborg, SD Area (F-4)

It serves as a reminder to be aware during the next several months as we’re in to severe weather season in South Dakota and the surrounding areas. It never hurts to keep an eye on the sky and an ear on your radio when severe storms pop up.

Sending prayers to Moore, Oklahoma and we also hope that we never have to experience what they are right now.

How You Can Help Victims of the Tornado in Oklahoma


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