June 24, 2003, proved to be a historic day in South Dakota as 67 tornadoes touched down in the state. The rare occurrence equaled the U.S. record for the most tornadoes within a state in a 24 hour time period. The record was established September 20, 1967, in Texas as Hurricane Beulah made landfall.
"Everyone at the office knew we were going to have severe weather that day," said Greg Harmon, meteorologist in charge of the Weather Service forecast office in Sioux Falls, "but I don’t think anyone was expecting anything close to a record tornado event; especially since we live in an area that usually sees 24 tornadoes during a year."
The 67 tornadoes actually occurred in a period of less than eight hours. NOAA Weather Service tornado statistics and records use only a 24-hour time frame, or calendar day, as a baseline.
The strongest of the 67 tornadoes to hit the state that night was an F4 on the Futjita scale that destroyed the town of Manchester, resulting in five injuries. Winds were estimated to be 207-260 mph. The tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sioux Falls provided the residents of Manchester with 28 minutes advanced warning.
More than 350 warnings, statements, and storm reports were issued by the NOAA Weather Service offices in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls that evening.
For additional information, contact:
Greg Harmon, NWS Sioux Falls.