On This Day In 1998: South Dakota’s Second Deadliest Tornado Strikes
On this day in 1998, a major tornado caused devastating damage in Spencer, South Dakota. National Weather Service survey teams were sent out days after the tornado to survey the damage left behind. The survey teams indicated a multiple vortex tornado touched down in Spencer, and two other tornadoes touching down west of Spencer.
The first tornado touched down around 8:15pm CDT, producing a storm path that began about 4 miles northwest of Fulton and ended near Fulton. A second damage path was observed about two miles north of Fulton extending five miles southeast and ending two miles northwest of Farmer.
The multiple vortex tornado that hit Spencer, originated near Long Lake in Hanson County. The storm intensified as it moved into Spencer at approximately 8:44pm CDT, as two storm cells merged into one. Wind speeds were estimated at upwards of 200 mph, which resulted in devastating damage in Spencer where nearly all structures were damaged or destroyed beyond repair. The damage caused by this tornado, resulted in the tornado being rated an F-4.
The late-May 1998 tornado outbreak and derecho was a historic tornado outbreak and derecho that began on the afternoon of May 30 and extended throughout May 31. Eleven people were killed; 7 by tornadoes and 6 by the derecho. Over two million people lost electrical power, some for up to 10 days.