Tornado and high winds lead to extensive damage in Burke
BURKE, S.D. (AP) — The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado, along with straight line winds, caused significant damage in the town of Burke.
Two people were injured in the storm, which swept through the area at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday. On Wednesday, officials announced that only emergency personnel and local residents are allowed in town as crews work to clean up the storm’s aftermath.
Burke Mayor Tom Glover says two people suffered minor injuries as they were attempting to park cars in a garage and it collapsed, the Argus Leader reports.
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service sent a team to investigate the damage and whether a tornado touched down in the area. According to the subsequent damage report, a cluster of severe thunderstorms moved across central South Dakota into northern Nebraska, bringing hail larger than 3 inches in some areas and damaging straight line winds.
As the system moved into Gregory County, a tornado rapidly developed in Burke at about 10:25 p.m. The tornado produced 110 mph peak wind speeds and had an estimated path length of 3.8 miles. It’s peak width was 225 feet.
The NWS says most of the damage in Burke was caused by 80-100 mph straight line winds to the central area of town. The main structures that were impacted include the school building, the Civic Center, the Senior Center, the Business Center and the Gregory County Courthouse, along with surrounding homes and businesses.
The extensive damage to the school building comes hardly two weeks before the first day of school on August 21. The Burke School District 26-2 announced on Facebook that the board and administrators planned to meet on Wednesday to discuss the damage, along with a temporary facility plan and cleanup.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise funds for the town to rebuild and recover. You can find the page here.