Looking Back at the Sioux Falls Tornados of September 2019
Sioux Falls, South Dakota woke up on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, to a city damaged by tornadoes. The previous night's storms produced the first tornadoes to touch down in Sioux Falls in 30 years.
Three tornados were in the city that night. The twisters, along with strong winds, and rain made their way through Sioux Falls and the tri-state area on Tuesday night (Sept 10, 2019) into Wednesday morning leaving destruction behind.
Lots of power lines were down in Sioux Falls with power outages reported around the city. A large portion of the destruction occurred just east of 41st and Kiwanis in the Plaza 41 shopping center. Joann Fabrics, Advance Auto Parts, Pizza Ranch, and the Original Pancake House were among the businesses in that area that were damaged.
Results Townsquare Media Chief Engineer John Schneider said on that morning: “You can see in the front of Pizza Ranch and right out the back.
Other areas hit hard in Sioux Falls included the Avera Heart Hospital on West 69th Street which reported portions of its roof blown off, windows blown out, and other damage.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Tenhaken and National Weather Service Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp held a press conference just after 5:00 AM that Wednesday morning. Mayor TenHaken reported that there were a few minor injuries reported, but none were serious.
NWS Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp said: "This has always been one of my nightmarish scenarios - severe storms producing strong winds and tornadoes moving into the southwest portion of the city late at night when people are in bed."
Captain Loren McManus of the Sioux Falls Police Department warned that there was debris strewn around many city streets and power lines down.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Sioux Falls says a preliminary tornado survey along 41st Street indicated a brief EF-2 tornado touchdown with winds estimated at 125 mph.
The NWS reported that three tornados touched down in Sioux Falls between 11:20 PM and 11:30 PM on September 10, 2019.
- An EF-2 tornado touched down in central Sioux Falls near the Western Mall. No injuries or deaths were reported.
- A second EF-2 tornado embedded within a severe line of thunderstorms touched down in southwest Sioux Falls near the Avera Heart Hospital., which sustained damage. Eight injuries were reported.
- A third brief tornado EF-2 touched down in southern Sioux Falls near 69th St. and Western Ave. Damage was observed at multiple single-family homes the NWS said. No injuries or deaths were reported.
"Straight line winds from 80 to 100 mph occurred with these thunderstorms, resulting in considerable tree damage. Some structures were also impacted. In addition, three brief EF-2 tornadoes were confirmed within the city of Sioux Falls. The Avera Health complex along 69th Street, the 41st Street commercial corridor between Kiwanis Avenue and Western Avenue, and a residential neighborhood in southern Sioux Falls sustained significant damage." - National Weather Service
This video is from the surveillance cameras inside the Pizza Ranch on 41st as the tornado hit the store.
The last time a tornado touched down in Sioux Falls was July 17, 1989. That day a small tornado caused extensive damage to six houses in western Sioux Falls.
According to statistics from The Tornado Project, here's a breakdown of tornado activity in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties before September 2019.
- Since 1954 there have been 49 reported tornadoes in Lincoln County.
- The largest was an F-3 on June 19, 1954. It touched down near what is now E 77th and Piping Rock Lane in southwest Sioux Falls.
- Since June of 1954, there have been two tornado deaths in Lincoln County. June 2, 1965, when a twister touched down near 475th Ave and 289th Street between Beresford and Worthing. And July 14, 1970, when a touchdown happened just west of I-29 near 291st St.
- Since August 1956 there have been 41 reported tornadoes in Minnehaha County.
- The largest was an F-4 on June 7, 1993, which touched down northwest of Sioux Falls, and hit the town of Colton, SD. This storm was part of a huge tornado outbreak on that day in June 1993 that included two F-4s in South Dakota.
- Since August of 1956, there have not been any reported tornado deaths in Minnehaha County.
- On July 18, 1989, an F-1 tornado damaged some houses and the west side of Sioux Falls.
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