Rochester Tornado Monthly Weather Review

At about 6 p. m., of the 21st, the town of Rochester, Minnesota, was visited by a most violent and destructive tornado, which destroyed a large part of the town.  Throughout the day the weather had been unsettled, but it was not unusually threatening.  At 3 p. m. a dark cloud arose in the west, which passed over, accompanied by high wind and a slight fall of rain.  At 5 p. m. a low bank of cloud was observed in the southwest, which rose rapidly, but it presented only the appearance of an ordinary thunder-cloud.  As it neared the city it assumed a threatening appearance, the whole sky becoming tinged with green.  In the upper part of the city the darkness was not great, but in the lower part it became as dark as night.  The approach of the tornado cloud was preceded by the usual roaring sound, which served as a warning to many persons, who sought protection in the cellars of the houses and escaped without injury.  In Rochester one hundred and thirty-five dwellings were completely destroyed, together with their contents, and a large number of others were unroofed or otherwise damaged.  Thirty-one persons were killed and about one hundred were more or less seriously injured.  A train on the Rochester and Northern division of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, while running at a high rate of speed, was blown from the track and wrecked between Rochester and Zumbrota, Minnesota.  A number of the passengers were killed, and nearly every one on the train sustained bodily injury.  The path of the tornado was from west to east, and its length was about eighteen miles.  A relief committee was organized, and issued circulars appealing for contributions for the aid of the sufferers.  The committee, after having examined the condition of fifty farms in the track of the storm, reported that every house and barn on them was demolished, and that much valuable stock was killed, farming implements wrecked, and thousands of bushels of grain were destroyed.  The loss to the farmers in Olmstead county is estimated to be not less than $200,000.

Source:
Monthly Weather Review
Volume 11, Issue 8, August 1883
Page 187

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