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Manchester was a small unincorporated community in Kingsbury Countymarker in the east-central part of the U.S. state of South Dakotamarker. On June 24 2003, the town was completely annihilated by a large F4-rated tornado, and has since become a ghost town.

Grace Ingalls, sister of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, spent a significant part of her adult life in Manchester. She worked as a teacher in the local school and died in 1941. Her sister Mary Ingalls lived with her for a while as well.

The Manchester Tornado

On June 24, 2003 a classic supercell thunderstorm spawned a tornado over eastern South Dakota. The tornado gradually matured and widened, forming a large "wedge" shape, and achieving an intensity of F4 on the Fujita scale and a width of between one-half and one mile as it entered Manchester.

The mesocyclone associated with the tornado was tracked by a large number of meteorologists and storm chasers. A small probe was placed directly in the tornado's damage path. The vortex traveled directly over the instrument, and record-breaking meteorological data was obtained by the probe. It managed to survive winds at the time estimated to be up to 260 mph (418 km/h) and measured a barometric pressure fall of around 100 millibars near the center of the half-mile wide tornado. Current estimates of wind speeds in an EF4-rated tornado would be in the 166-200 mph (267-322 km/h) range.

Manchester was a small, compact town surrounded on all sides by farmland and built largely around the intersection of US Highway 14 and 425th Avenue in rural Kingsbury County. The tornado struck the intersection dead on, and was wide and powerful enough to destroy literally every building in the town, but there were no deaths.

As of 2007, the town lies barren and abandoned. There are no plans to rebuild. All that currently remains of Manchester is the slab foundations of demolished houses and the wind-twisted town limits sign, sitting in a sea of empty farmland. Manchester is now an official natural disaster ghost town. Although empty and depopulated, Manchester has not been "wiped off the map" yet, as it remains on both the government rolls and maps pending the next Federal census.

On June 25, 2007 a granite monument was erected in the ghost town commemorating its history and honoring the residents who had lived there.


  1. NOAA National Weather Serivce, Sioux Falls, SD "Record Pressure Drop Recorded with Machester Tornado", Retrieved on 2009-10-13.

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