July 24, 2000 Carter, SD Tornado

On July 24th, 2000 a tornado storm took shape near Carter, SD. On July 25th, 2000 a trip was made to the area and a storm damage survey was done.


A supercell thunderstorm developed early in the evening of July 24, 2000 in extreme western Tripp County, SD. This storm quickly became severe, and produced large hail and a few tornadoes as it moved to the south through south central South Dakota and northern Nebraska. This damage survey was conducted in response to the reports of a large tornado northwest of Carter, SD. Tom Warner was on Highway 20 near Wood Lake, NE when he was able to record this low-contrast image of a tornado (the arrows indicate the location of the large 'wedge'-type tornado). This tornado evolved from the same storm that produced the Carter, SD tornado. A radar movie of the storm illustrates how this supercell developed quickly, split, produced the tornado, dissipated slightly, then re-organized just prior to becoming very strong as it crossed south into Nebraska.

Tornado Damage Survey

The surveyed area discussed here is summarized in the image above. Reports of large hail (or severe hail damage) are indicated by the red dots. The small black arrows indicate the direction of wind damage as surveyed from the ground.

 We left early in the morning on the 25th to conduct the survey. Upon reaching Carter, SD, we immediately began to drive the area searching for damage and people to discuss the event with. The first evidence of severe weather we found was at the Farnsworth Ranch (approx one-half mile north of Carter). A resident who was home at the time of the storm indicated that some large hail fell (up to 2.5"), but there was little or no wind during the event, and damage to trees and surrounding structures was minimal. 2-2.5" hail is seen on the right. Click here to see the relatively minor damage to the area (only a few leaves stripped from the trees, even though the hail was very large).

Big Hail

The resident at the Farnsworth Ranch gave us the location of the people who had witnessed the tornado and experienced very large hail. So we proceeded to go to a ranch west of Carter about 2 miles, then 0.8 miles north. No one was home at this location, so we continued north on the gravel road. Close inspection of the corn fields in this area soon revealed the path of the tornado. Strongly convergent wind damage was noted in corn fields north and east of this ranch, as well as scouring of the soil in tilled fields. Looking to the north in this area showed severely stripped corn, blown down toward the west (left). 100 yards to the west of this location, again looking north, the corn was stripped and blown down to the east (right). The tornado passed between these two plots of corn, in an unplanted area where the soil was scoured down to the hard pan dirt below.

After surveying the damage near Carter, we proceeded further to the south in an attempt to find evidence of the tornado reported 5 miles northwest of Clearfield. We visited a house about 7 miles southeast of Carter (9 miles north-northwest of Clearfield). The owners said there was a bit of 1" hail, but that there was little wind, and the storm "wasn't all that bad". Continuing toward the south, we came across a few trees blown over toward the east along Highway 53 about 5 miles north-northwest of Clearfield. However, there was not enough evidence to conclude anything about the nature of the winds which blew them over. In Clearfield, we talked to the sole resident who said they also experienced 1" hail during the event. It was mentioned that a neighbor saw considerable debris 'flying around' to the northwest of Clearfield, but did not see a tornado or funnel.

Our survey was concluded south of Clearfield where we saw another tree down (blown to the east). We then went to Winner to talk to the Emergency Manager and the local Sheriff about our findings.

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