What we know about the EF-2 tornados at Augustana



Late Tuesday night, three tornados touched down in Sioux Falls but left Augustana University almost unscathed.

Campus experienced broken tree limbs, leaky windows, and minor flooding. Some apartments including Norse, Costello and Duluth are still experiencing power outages.

According to Campus Safety, all students are safe and accounted for. Classes continued as normal Wednesday morning.

However, some areas of Sioux Falls were not so fortunate. Businesses on 41st Street and Western like Advanced Auto Parts, Pizza Ranch and Best Buy experienced extreme damage, as did the Avera Health Hospital on 69th Street.

Many Augustana students both on and off-campus took shelter in dorm and house basements during the storm, starting at approximately 11:45 p.m. Tuesday night and staying until about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

Here’s what we know about Tuesday’s tornado:

How big were the tornados, and when did they start?

The southeastern tornado touched down at 11:28 p.m. Tuesday night near Western Avenue and 85th Street, the National Weather Service told the Argus Leader. A flash flood warning was also in effect until about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The three twister was measured as EF-2 with peak winds of 130 mph. No one was injured.

According to the Weather Channel, tornados can range from EF-0 to EF-5, with the EF-2 typically causing considerable damage.

Sioux Falls Police said the full area affected was roughly from 26th street to the north, 85th St. to the south, Minnesota Ave. to the east and Marion Rd. to the west.

A second tornado touched down near Western Ave. and 85th St., and a third near the Avera Health Complex.

What were the damages on campus?

No major damages have been reported on campus. Drone photos by the Augustana Mirror show minimal damage.

Some apartments experienced power outages during the night. Norse, Costello and Duluth are still currently without power, according to Campus Safety.

Some students like sophomore Grace Douglas have reported leaky window sills and minor flooding in dorm basements, namely Granskou and Stavig. Senior Viking Advisor Keeley Meier said a freshman’s fan flew out their dorm window.

How did students stay safe during the tornado?

Campus Safety did not send a text alert until after the storm had passed at 1:47 a.m. Many students received emergency alerts via cell phones urging them to seek shelter.

In campus dorms, some students voluntarily sought shelter in basements and hallways. 

Students gathered in basements and hallways throughout campus, huddling on floors over unfinished chemistry homework and keeping updated on the storm via Twitter. In the Stavig basement, students sang “Happy Birthday” to a newly 21-year-old, junior Korben Heim as the clock struck midnight.

Some students in East Hall like junior Layne Symington took shelter in the basement laundry room.

“I’m not a fan,” Symington said of being stuck on the concrete floors. “I forgot to bring my computer to work on my essay.”

Others on campus were working on homework as the tornado hit, like Al Blonquist, a senior football player. He and two of his teammates took shelter with two night janitors inside the Froiland Science Center.

What’s next?

According the to NWS, severe storms will be passing over the Sioux Falls area again tonight with the possibility for more tornado activity. The risk of heavy rain is also possible.

How can we prepare?

In an email sent out to students, Director of Campus Safety Rick Tupper advised students to monitor local weather stations to keep up with current conditions, stay away from windows, be familiar with safety routes, follow directions of staff and move to safety immediately upon hearing the sirens activate.

Click to enlarge individual photos below. Photos include submissions from Augustana students as well as student journalists. 

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