2020 Murdo, South Dakota tornado
EF5 tornado
SD EF5 drawing-1

The tornado as it struck the town of Murdo
Date May 7, 2020
Times 4:38 p.m. CDT - 5:22 p.m. CDT
Touchdown location 4:38 p.m. CDT
Highest winds

328 mph (km/h) (Recorded)

Injuries 79
Fatalities 47
Damage $29.5 Million
Areas affected Jones County, South Dakota
Part of the
Tornadoes of 2020

On the afternoon of May 7. 2020, a large, extremely violent EF5 multi-vortex wedge tornado destroyed the entire town of Murdo, South Dakota, killing 47 people and injuring 79 others. It was part of a larger early-May weather system and reached a maximum width of 1.5 miles (00 km).

The tornado touched down in southern Jones County at 4:38 p.m. CDT (00:00 UTC), and began moving northeast across rural countryside. The tornado proceeded to rapidly grow in size and developed a multi-vortex structure. Intense sub-vortices caused extensive ground scouring in several spots and even scoured pavement off a road. The tornado grew to a mile-wide and began turning to the north, eventually heading towards the town of Murdo. The tornado reached a peak width of 1.5 miles wide as it decimated the town. Damage across the town was rated EF2 with concentrated streaks of EF4+ damage.

The damage from this particular tornado was described as "some of the most violent and extreme tornado damage ever surveyed" by damage surveyors and meteorologists. Many homes and businesses in Murdo were completely swept away and some foundations were dislodged or heavily scoured. Excessive wind rowing of debris occurred for several miles, cars were thrown great distances or vanished, and extreme ground scouring also occurred.

Meteorological Synopsis

Storm Track and Development

At 4:38 p.m. CDT (00:00 UTC), the tornado touched down over rural foothills in southern Jones County near the White River and began moving northeast. The tornado had a visible multi-vortex structure and was rapidly growing in width as it raced across the countryside at over 50 mph. After moving across open terrain for 6.5 miles the tornado had reached 1 mile across in width and struck a farmhouse which sustained EF2 damage. The tornado then intensified and left intense streaks of ground scouring caused by intense sub-vortices and abandoned farm buildings were obliterated.

The tornado then began to gradually turn the northeast.




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