The May 29, 1953 Fort Rice North Dakota F-5 Tornado

It was on May 29, 1953 that a tornado, 600 yards wide at times, killed two persons on a 20 mile path from southwest of Fort Rice ND into Emmons County. Almost every building in Fort Rice was damaged and the local Catholic church was leveled.  There were reports that some of the church pews were jammed four feet into the ground.  The Bismarck Tribune has an excellent article that is still on-line about that storm here:

Here is a view of the newspaper after the event.


This tornado is presumed to have have been an F5 on the original Fujita Scale and is one of only two tornadoes given that ranking in North Dakota, with the other being the Fargo tornado in June, 1957.

Below is the surface map for that day.  You will notice a warm front near the North Dakota / South Dakota border with an attached area of low pressure west of Pierre, SD.  This likely helped enhance low level shear, with low level pooling taking place near the front that afternoon in south central North Dakota.


Daryl Ritchison