July 4th Marks 36 Years Since One of North Dakota’s Deadliest Tornadoes
The 4th of July is usually a day for celebrating, but the Independence Day Tornado of 1978 ruined that for the people of Elgin and Grant County, ND.
North Dakota experienced severe weather from the night of July 4th through early morning, but none expected a tornado this devastating. At approximately 9:30 p.m. an F4 tornado touched down west of Elgin, which lies 60 miles southwest of Bismarck.
The tornado was on the ground for about an hour with the exception of some skipping. It tore through Elgin and followed Highway 21 for roughly 27 miles. The aftermath was overwhelming with five people dead, 35 injured and extensive damage to Elgin and the surrounding areas.
The reasoning for it's prolonged life span was the combination of a warm and humid air mass with a low pressure system. It is estimated that the tornado was between 200 and 300 yards wide.
You can see photos of the damage here.