Photos of the Alexandria SD Tornadoes

30 May 1998


Alexandria SD Tornado Imagery


Two tornadoes were spawned from a second supercell which developed on the rear-flank gust front from the Spencer thunderstorm. These tornadoes were occurring simultaneously for several minutes. Their paths near Alexandria are mapped here by Brian Smith. This 1.7 MB MPEG video clip by Nick Nicholson shows both tornadoes. [A third possible tornado, described by Chuck Doswell as a "dirt dauber" with a small debris fan and no condensation funnel, produced no damage and was not mapped as a tornado by Brian Smith.]


Looking WSW from 3 NE Emery SD, on the Highway 25 bridge above eastbound lanes of I-90 (85 mm lens). Early stages of northern tornado.

Looking W from 3 ENE Enery SD on Highway 25, about 1/2 mile south of I-90. Northern tornado weakened, with very little ground debris. Note apparent RFD to left of weakened tornado.

Looking SW from ~5 N Emery SD. Early stages of northern tornado at bottom center, and better defined in this digitally enhanced version.


Looking SW from ~5 N Emery SD. Northern (right) and southern (left) tornadoes faintly visible at bottom center, and better defined in this digitally enhanced version.


Looking W from 3 E Emery SD. Northern (larger) tornado formed before southern (smaller) one, and persisted longer. Both tornadoes were moving right to left (NW-SE).


Looking WSW after sunset, same location. The smaller (southern) tornado appears to be extending from a separate and slightly more distant (with respect to the photographer) wall cloud.


Looking W. Northern tornado re-strengthened, with smaller rope tornado to its WSW. Better-defined RFD is due south of the tornadoes.


Looking WSW from 3 E Emery SD, at first (larger) tornado after dissipation of second (smaller, southern) one.


Looking WSW -- short conical condensation funnel narrows over debris cloud


Southern (rope) tornado had ended abruptly...and longer-lived northern tornado also weakened. Northern tornado then briefly became more vigorous; but about 30 seconds later dissipated completely.


For more info, photos and video clips, storm observer Nick Nicholson has posted his intercept account of the Spencer supercell and Alexandria tornadoes on this website. There is also a page of frame-captures from video of the Alexandria SD tornadoes by Steve Sponsler.


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