June 20, 1957 – Deadly F5 Tornado Strikes Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo Tornado

F-5 tornado touches down near Hector Field, the local airport 3 miles northwest of Fargo

On June 20, 1957, a series of 23 tornadoes spawned by a supercell thunderstorm, including a massive F5 twister which leveled 329 homes and killed ten people, struck Fargo, North Dakota.  The 9-miles-long, 700-feet-wide monster traveled over 57 miles on a track originating in Albertha, North Dakota and continuing across the state to beyond the Minnesota border.  Debris from Fargo was found as far away as Rochert, Minnesota, 54 miles east of the devastated town.  Additional damage across the state included 1035 homes, four churches, three schools, and 45 businesses, mostly small shops.

Dr. T. Theodore Fujita from the University of Chicago studied the Fargo tornado extensively.  His published work introduced many terms for tornado technology still in use today.  In 1971, Dr. Fujita created the F-Scale for rating tornado intensity based on damage to structures and vegetation.  At that time, the Fargo tornado was designated with F5 status.

Image Credit: North Dakota State University