Dozens of buildings were damaged and nine people were hurt when three tornadoes struck South Dakota’s largest city, according to the National Weather Service.
Fire Chief Brad Goodroad said at least 37 structures collapsed in Sioux Falls or have structural problems after the storm rolled through the city just before midnight Tuesday. There were no reports of deaths.
The tornadoes were rated EF-2 with estimated peak winds of 130 mph, said Todd Heitkamp, weather service meteorologist.
Mayor Paul TenHaken said the city was looking into a “breach of protocol” after outdoor sirens didn’t sound across the entire city. TenHaken said most sirens sounded in the hardest hit areas of Sioux Falls, the southwest part of the city. However, they were supposed to sound citywide.
Among the buildings damaged was Avera Behavioral Health, where the storm ripped off part of the roof and significantly damaged windows.
Several patients were moved to another location. One patient suffered an injury, which was not life-threatening, said Avera spokeswoman Michelle Pellman.
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Other damaged businesses included an Advance Auto Parts store, where a wall collapsed. A Kohl’s and a Best Buy lost part of their roofs and a Pizza Ranch suffered heavy damage.
Xcel Energy said as many as 25,000 customers were without power at one point.
The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds’ armory.
Sioux Falls, with an estimated population of 187,200, is about 180 miles north of Omaha.
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Issued when conditions are favorable for damaging storms to develop. These watches typically cover a large area and are in effect for several hours. If a watch is issued, people should think about what they’ll do if a dangerous storm suddenly develops. For example, if you have outdoor plans, have an idea where you’ll go for shelter.
This is serious. It means that National Weather Service radar or a storm spotter has detected or seen a powerful storm. These types of storms are capable of causing serious damage, either from hail that is larger than an inch or winds that are in excess of 58 mph. These are targeted to just the area in the storm’s path, unlike a watch, which covers many counties. If you are outdoors and in the path of the storm, seek shelter or try to pull off the road to avoid driving in the storm. These storms can generate tornadoes with little warning.
Conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. Watches are issued for large areas and generally for a long period of time. Sometimes watches cover portions of several states and can last for hours. Have a plan for what you’ll do if a tornado suddenly develops. More serious is a tornado warning.
Head for shelter! Tornado warnings are issued when radar has detected rotation in a cloud or a storm spotter has seen a tornado. Take cover immediately if a warning is issued for your area. Even though you may not see the tornado, it could be there, hidden in rain, or it could drop from the sky above you without warning. Warnings typically last about 30 minutes. Local sirens will sound when warnings are issued. But keep in mind that some sirens could be disabled by the tornado, so you may not hear one.
A violent swirling column of air that stretches from a cloud to the ground, with winds in excess of 65 mph. Winds with a tornado can reach 300 mph or more. If you are watching a tornado and can’t tell what direction it is traveling in, then it is traveling toward you.
A swirling column of air that extends downward from a cloud but doesn’t reach the ground.
Hail must be 1-inch wide to be considered damaging. Keep in mind that wind direction often determines which side of a building or car is damaged.
A tornado that isn’t spawned by a powerful storm cell and typically stretches to the ground from a towering, but less threatening cloud. A waterspout occurs over water.