After a devastating tornado ripped through Fargo-Moorhead the night of June 20, 1957, Dr. Ted Fujita spent weeks onsite, speaking with witnesses, looking through photographs and video footage and observing and recording damages. Though you might not know him, you probably know the meteorological tool he created—thanks in part to his research of the Fargo tornado. It’s the official scale ranking tornadoes by their power and destruction: the Fujita Scale, with rankings of F0 through F5.
Dr. Fujita chose to research the Fargo tornado because it had been so well documented; residents took more than 200 still- and motion-pictures at various points in the Fargo-Moorhead area, enabling him to study the entire life of the storm and reconstruct the atmospheric conditions that caused it.
After he established the scale in 1971, the Fargo tornado was ranked at the top, with winds topping out at an estimated 230 mph.
June 20, 2020, is the 63rd anniversary of the Fargo tornado. Thanks to Fujita’s information, firsthand accounts and photographs, we can see how that day in 1957 unfolded.
June 20, 1957
As North Dakotans stepped outside, they recognized the familiar summer weather that so often takes hold of the Great Plains: hot and sticky. The temperature hovered in the mid-80s with dew points near 70ºF, but the oppressive humidity was alleviated a bit by a south breeze.
Ray Jensen arrived at the US Weather Bureau (National Weather Service’s predecessor) station at Fargo’s Hector Airport around 4 p.m. He worked as a meteorological aid, making observations and charting data during his solo 8-hour shift.
Read the full story in your Friday, June 19th Times-Record. Purchase your paper copy of today’s paper at the TR office (146 3rd St NE, Valley City), local gas stations and grocery stores or an electronic copy by clicking subscribe in the top left corner of the www.times-online.com home page.