Timeline: The night three tornadoes touched down in Sioux Falls

Damage from an EF-2 tornado at an Advanced Auto Parts store in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Damage from an EF-2 tornado at an Advanced Auto Parts store in Sioux Falls, S.D.(KCRG)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 12:38 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - On Sept. 10, 2019, shortly after much of the city had gone to sleep for the night, Sioux Falls was hit by three separate tornadoes.

Each tornado was only on the ground for about a minute, but they all left a path of destruction. No lives were lost, but many lives were changed that night.

The following is a timeline of the Sept. 10 tornadoes, compiled through Dakota News Now archives and a National Weather Service analysis.

The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 10: Severe weather was expected to hit later in the day, but meteorologists began with predictions that activity would center around central Nebraska and south-central South Dakota.

Afternoon into evening: Forecasts began pushing the focal point of severe weather north and east. Storms began moving into the area, with the first thunderstorm warnings being issued in counties in southwest South Dakota around 3 p.m.

The storm approaches Colome in south-central South Dakota around 6 p.m.
The storm approaches Colome in south-central South Dakota around 6 p.m.(Denus Debus, submitted photo)

8 p.m.: The weather system intensifies as the first tornado warning of the evening is issued in south-central South Dakota. Several other warnings pop up as the storm rapidly pushes east. In addition to strong winds and the threat of tornadoes, several flash flood warnings are also issued.

10 p.m.: The heart of the storm system moves into southeast South Dakota. Severe thunderstorm warnings continue to pop up from the National Weather Service. Ominous thunder appears on the horizon in Sioux Falls.

11 p.m.: The the storm arrives in Sioux Falls. Tornado warnings are issued in Lincoln and Turner counties, as well as the southwestern corner of Minnehaha County.

11:24 p.m.: Two tornadoes “rapidly developed” in southern Sioux Falls, according to the National Weather Service. One is near the Avera Heart Hospital, the other near 85th Street and Western Avenue. Both tornadoes are rated as EF-2s, with max wind speeds around 125 mph. Staff and patients at the hospital take shelter as the building shakes and windows shatter (Find the story of what it was like inside the hospital here). Eight people were injured, according to the NWS.

11:28 p.m.: A third EF-2 tornado touches down near 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue and travels southeast three quarters of a mile, tearing through neighborhoods and business around the Western Mall. This is normally one of the busiest parts of the city, but thankfully due to the late hour, few people are around. However, staff and patrons at The Rush bar at Plaza 41 had to take shelter as the tornado hit the complex head-on (Find the story of what it was like inside the bar here).

The tornado’s path brought it within a few hundred yards of the former KDLT building (this was prior to the KSFY/KDLT merger). Our staff briefly had to take cover.

12 a.m.: As quickly as it came, the storm moved out of the Sioux Falls area. A tornado warning remained in effect until 12:30 a.m. The storm continued to be a threat as it moved east with powerful winds.

Sept. 11, 2019: The level of destruction became fully apparent as dawn arrived. The NWS confirmed preliminary details about the three tornadoes.

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