Unusual Weather Damage
Spencer Water Tower
The commercial TV media beamed images (not mine!) of this toppled water tower worldwide the day after the Spencer, SD tornado -- pictures which instantly became vivid symbols of a small, aging prairie town virtually obliterated in the span of a couple minutes. But in the view behind the hype, there was some intriguing damage analysis and trajectory interpretation to be done. On the left (north) side of its pedestal, at right, lay a large, overturned metal tank; and under the tower's crumpled legs uneasily rested a large sedan blown from elsewhere. Other vehicles (unseen) lay behind the metal tank. Part of the roof of the town's fire station landed on the pedestal, from a block away. In analyzing this damage, it was apparent that the tank, a large part of the structure of the fire station, and at least 2 or 3 vehicles battered the legs of the tower, undercutting them. The tower, its supports weakened and pushed against the tank, "tripped" over the tank and fell toward the NNW.
Spencer SD (31 May 98) looking ENE