1957 Fargo tornado

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1957 Fargo Tornado
Picture of the F5 tornado as it nears Hector International Airport.
Date of tornado outbreak: June 20–23, 1957
Duration1: 3 days, 7 hours, 30 minutes
Maximum rated tornado2: F5 tornado
Tornadoes caused: 1
Highest winds:
Largest hail:
Damages: $25.883 million (1957 USD) $198.16 million (2008 USD)
Fatalities: 10
Areas affected: Midwest

1Time from first tornado to last tornado
2Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita Scale

The 1957 Fargo tornado was a violent and deadly tornado that struck Fargo, North Dakota on Thursday, June 20, 1957. The tornado struck the north Fargo (Golden Ridge) area in the early evening, causing major devastation. Damage was extensive including 100 blocks of Fargo. The worst residential damage occurred in the Golden Ridge Subdivision, much of which was swept away and scattered across a nearby farm field. Approximately 329 homes were destroyed and some of them were completely swept off their foundations - a classic example of F5 damage. Another 1035 homes were damaged. Fifteen farm homes were destroyed and 25 damaged. Four churches and Shanley High School were destroyed and two schools were damaged. Fifteen businesses were destroyed and 30 suffered major damage. These were mainly small local shops. Two hundred automobiles were destroyed and 300 damaged.[1]

In the end, ten people lost their lives. After 1971, when Dr. Ted Fujita introduced his scale that rates tornadoes based on the damage they cause, the Fargo tornado received an F5 rating, the most severe level. The tornado had a long track which started in North Dakota, traveled 27.4 miles to the Minnesota border and continued for another 25 miles. The total track length of the tornado was 57.4 miles and at its widest, it was almost a mile across. This tornado was part of a family of tornadoes that was spawned by a supercell thunderstorm that moved through most of North Dakota and into parts of Minnesota.[2] It was the northernmost confirmed F5 tornado until the Elie, Manitoba Tornado on June 22, 2007. The Fargo area has also been hit by three F3 tornadoes on June 13, 1950, August 30, 1956 and most recently June 15, 1973 but none of these caused any fatalities.[3]

Debris from the tornado was found as far as western Minnesota, over 50 miles (80 km) east of Fargo in Becker County.

This tornado is considered the most devastating in North Dakota history, and was one of only two F5 tornadoes that have struck the state, the other occurring four years earlier in 1953.

In June of 2007, the 50th anniversary of the tornado was commemorated by the Fargo Forum, which ran a week-long series of stories on the tornado.

In 2010, North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate Jamie Parsley authored a book about the Fargo tornado entitled Fargo, 1957: An Elegy, which was published by the Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

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