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Unstable weather in, near Pierce County

By Staff | Aug 12, 2016

Unstable weather conditions last Wednesday led to damaging hail and a tornado in and near Pierce County.

A tornado that ranked as a two on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with estimated maximum wind speeds of 120 miles per hour, touched down near Wolford, or eight miles southwest of Bisbee late in the afternoon. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Jones, at one point the tornado was estimated to be 880 yards wide.

No injuries or deaths were reported, but area farmers sustained damage to buildings and crops.

Nodak Mutual agent Steve Mueller estimated that 485 claims were called in as of Wednesday, and that with people at work in the afternoon the storm hit at the “worst possible time.”

Jayme Berube, of Berube Crop Insurance, said Wednesday he was still working on crop insurance claims and that while the damage was substantial in some areas, it could’ve been worse. Berube also said that for some crops, the damage was too early to determine.

Jones said with a cold front moving into a zone of hot, humid air, everything was in place for strong thunderstorms with hail and tornados.

“{It} had the right environment for strong, severe weather,” Jones said.

The storm dropped one to 2.5-inch hail in Rugby, and 3-inch hail in Rolette and the Turtle Mountains.

The Enhanced Fujita scale takes wind intensity and damage into account, however, types of damaged structures are used in determining tornado intensity. An EF2 like the one that touched down in the area could tear roofs, shift foundations of frame homes, completely destroy mobile homes, snap or uproot large trees and lift cars off the ground.

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