Twister Tormented 60 Years Ago

High winds destroyed homes, cares, city blocks and killed 12 in a 1957 Fargo tornado, Sarah Bundy, an assistant professor of emergency management, said on a panel Tuesday.

The June 20 tornado left the region in awe of its terror, so much so that the tornado is still remembered and discussed 60 years later.

Adnan Akyüz, the state climatologist for North Dakota, said the pressure of this twister was about 43 times as much as an atomic bomb.

He added that a tornado typically lasts “about two minutes.” The Fargo tornado lasted 60 minutes. It also followed a 10-mile-long path and spanned about 600 yards in width, spinning at about 168 miles per hour.

He said people who were there at the time stated that it sounded like a train.

Tornado facts

Akyüz said in terms of national average for the number of tornadoes a state has annually, North Dakota ranks No. 16 in the nation.

He said though that is true, Cass County has the highest rate of tornadoes in North Dakota.

Akyüz said a tornado has never happened in North Dakota past Nov. 1, and the total number of tornadoes in 2016 amounts to 32.

He added the current peak year of tornadoes in North Dakota was 2010, when three lives were claimed. In 1957, though, the number of tornadoes was relatively low, with 14 tornadoes occurring.

The system on which tornadoes are rated, the F-scale, was based on the Fargo tornado. The twister set the bar in 1957 for what classified an F5 tornado, or the highest classification a tornado can receive.

Akyüz said it was a myth that tornadoes occur more often in populated areas, pointing out the only data collected is the data recorded; someone must report a tornado for it to be included in the data.

The only warning tornado victims received was a radio communication after the tornado was officially reported, Akyüz said.

The Fargo tornado was actually a family of five tornadoes. The largest, though, had an F5 classification and is what scientists continue studying.

The tornado panel occurred on Tuesday in North Dakota State’s main library.

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