National Weather Service surveys Bennett County tornado damage

SWETT S.D. — Community members, emergency crews, and the National Weather Service surveyed the damage after a tornado touched down in Bennett County on Saturday.

On Sunday night, the National Weather Service categorized the tornado as an EF-1. On Twitter, the Martin Volunteer Fire Department said that the tornado killed several deer as well.

The tornado ripped through fields and toppled trees near the community of Swett, not too far from Allen.

“This tornado, it was clear,” said Jeff Siscoe, the emergency manager for Bennett County. “You could see blue sky in the background of some of the pictures, so you could see it from a long way away.”

The brunt of the damage was to an old ranch house a few miles from Swett. Windows were shattered, roofs were ripped off of outbuildings, and farm equipment scattered. The tornado even uprooted the concrete supports of two grain bins, tossing them into the woods like a couple of tin cans.

The National Weather Service is assessing the damage to determine the tornado’s power.

“A lot of times if a tornado stays open an open area, we know it was probably pretty strong but we cant determine how strong because it didn’t cause a lot of damage,” said Susan Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The information that the NWS collects is used to train meteorologists and emergency managers. Officials say by most standards, this wasn’t a normal tornado. When it formed, it mostly stayed in one spot.

“Normally our tornadoes last 5-10 minutes around here and they travel maybe a mile or two,” said Sanders. “Sometimes 4-5 miles. To have one without much movement and down on the ground that long is really unique.”

And though there no injuries, experts say it’s a reminder for all of us to be aware and to have a plan.

“They need to be tuned to the weather,” said Siscoe. “That storm spun up that tornado really fast so people need to maintain their awareness of whats going on.”


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