Tuesday marks 18th anniversary of deadly F3 tornado in Siren

SIREN, WI– Tornadoes are not all that common during the summer months in the Northland, and if they do occur, they are usually on the lower end of the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale.

However, on the evening of June 18, 2001, the town of Siren experienced a strong and devastating tornado, which killed three people and injured 16.

Around 8 PM, a severe thunderstorm was tracking across parts of Pine and Burnett counties, and ended up producing a tornado near Braham, MN, located in Isanti County, about a half hour before then.

According to the NWS, storm spotters witnessed a tornado on the ground just northeast of Grantsburg at 8:06 PM, about 14 miles west of Siren.

The tornado then tracked east, eventually reaching Siren around 8:20 PM. The tornado tore through the downtown area before continuing east, and eventually dissipated about 15 miles east of town.

Siren sustained significant to extensive damage, where a handful of homes were completely leveled and many businesses suffered significant structural damage.

The tornado was rated F3, and the width of the tornado was as wide as a half-mile, but averaged between an eighth and a quarter of a mile, and traveled on the ground for 27 miles.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning 35 minutes before the tornado touched down, and about 50 minutes of lead time before the tornado hit Siren.

The last tornado which had hit in the Northland rated 3 or higher was on July 5, 1991, when an F3 tornado hit near the Brainerd and Baxter areas.

The Fujita Scale (F) rates tornadoes based on damage and is classified as the following:

  • F-0: < 73 mph (weak)
  • F-1: 73-112 mph (moderate)
  • F-2: 113-157 mph (significant)
  • F-3: 158-206 mph (severe)
  • F-4: 207-260 mph (extreme)
  • F-5: 261 mph + (catastrophic)

In February 2007, the Fujita Scale was reclassified as the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF), and the new criteria is shown below:

  • EF-0: 65-85 mph (weak)
  • EF-1: 86-110 mph (moderate)
  • EF-2: 111-135 mph (significant)
  • EF-3: 136-165 mph (severe)
  • EF-4: 166-200 mph (extreme)
  • EF-5: 200 mph + (catastrophic)

The Siren tornado has been featured on The Weather Channel series Storm Stories.

Click here to view more information, including the radar images and photos of the damage.

KBJR Staff

KBJR Staff

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