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5 Tornado Ghost Towns

Chris Dolce
Published: March 27, 2013

Manchester, South Dakota

Manchester Tornado Damage

Manchester Tornado Damage

NOAA

Image Credit: National Weather Service Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Manchester Tornado Damage
  • Manchester Tornado Damage
  • Manchester Tornado Damage
  • Manchester Tornado Damage
  • Manchester Aerial View
  • Manchester Tornado Path

When it comes to ghost towns, images of the Wild West, not tornado destruction, probably come to mind first. However, for a handful of towns devastated by tornadoes in the central United States, this term is appropriate.

Our Severe Weather Expert Dr. Greg Forbes has compiled a list of so-called "tornado ghost towns" that no longer exist because of extreme tornado damage. For our first ghost town, we don't have to go far back in the history books.

On the evening of June 24, 2003, the town of Manchester, S.D. was leveled by a powerful F4 tornado. The tornado that moved through the small town was around a half mile wide! Amazingly, no fatalities were reported.

According to the 2000 census, the town only had a population of 109 before the tornado wiped out just about everything it its path. Afterwards, Manchester was never rebuilt and in 2007 a monument was dedicated in the former town.

The Manchester tornado was the strongest of 95 tornadoes that struck parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming and Iowa in the outbreak. An incredible 66 tornadoes touched downed in South Dakota alone in eight hours.

For our next town, we head to the early 20th century in Missouri.


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