A look back at the Rochester F5 Tornado, 133 years later

August 21, 2016 0 Comments

August 21, 1883 is arguably the most important day in the history of Rochester. That was the day that the Med City took a direct hit from an F5 tornado. This mile-wide tornado touched down in Dodge County, leveling farms there. It moved northeast into northern Rochester, causing destruction to homes before finally dissipating about 10 miles east of town.

Damage from Rochester F5 Tornado

Damage from Rochester F5 Tornado

Two other tornadoes touched down in southeast Minnesota that day, both rated at F3. One affected communities in southern Olmsted County, the other touched down north of St. Charles and made its way through parts of Winona County before dissipating north of Lewiston. In all, 40 people lost their lives and over 200 others were injured. The damage was around $700,000 in 1883 dollars, which would be around $16 million today.

Weather History

There were only three hospitals in Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities at the time, none near Rochester. In the wake of this disaster, St. Mary’s Hospital was formed through a joint effort by the Mayo family and the Sisters of St. Francis. This would eventually lead to the creation of the Mayo Clinic.

H/T NWS La Crosse for the information in this blog, you can learn more about this eventĀ here.

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