Tornado outbreak of June 3–4, 1958

On June 3–4, 1958, a destructive tornado outbreak affected the Upper Midwestern United States. It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in the U.S. state of Wisconsin since records began in 1950. The outbreak, which initiated in Central Minnesota, killed at least 28 people, all of whom perished in Northwestern Wisconsin. The outbreak generated a long-lived tornado family that produced four intense tornadoes across the Eau Claire–Chippewa Falls metropolitan area, primarily along and near the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak was a destructive F5 that killed 21 people and injured 110 others in and near Colfax, Wisconsin.[nb 2][nb 3][nb 4]

Tornado outbreak of June 3–4, 1958
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationJune 3–4, 1958
13 confirmed
Max. rating1F5 tornado
Duration of
tornado outbreak2
1 day, 4 hours, 10 minutes
Largest hailin (10 cm) on June 4
Fatalities28 fatalities, 175 injuries
Damage$83.3 million (1958 USD)[1][nb 1]
$845 million (2023 USD)
Areas affectedPrimarily the Upper Midwest

1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado


Impacts by region
Region Locale Deaths Injuries Damages Source
United States Minnesota 0 2 $250,060 [11]
Montana 0 0 $30 [12]
Nebraska 0 0 $25,000 [13]
Wisconsin 28 173 $83,000,000 [14]
Wyoming 0 0 $25,060 [15]
Total 28 175 $83,300,000 [16]


Confirmed tornadoesEdit

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 2 4 3 1 2 1 13

June 3 eventEdit

Confirmed tornadoes – Tuesday, June 3, 1958[nb 5][nb 6]
F# Location County / Parish State Start
Time (UTC) Path length Max. width Summary
F2 S of Shell Big Horn WY 44°32′N 107°47′W / 44.53°N 107.78°W / 44.53; -107.78 (Shell (June 3, F2)) 22:00–? 0.2 miles (0.32 km) 17 yards (16 m) Losses totaled $25,000. Grazulis did not list the tornado as an F2 or stronger.[19][20][21]
F1 NNE of Wyodak (1st tornado) Campbell WY 44°18′N 105°22′W / 44.30°N 105.37°W / 44.30; -105.37 (Wyodak #1 (June 3, F1)) 00:35–? 1 mile (1.6 km) 10 yards (9.1 m) Two small tornadoes developed and occurred simultaneously east of Gillette. Losses totaled $30.[22][20]
F1 NNE of Wyodak (2nd tornado) Campbell WY 44°18′N 105°22′W / 44.30°N 105.37°W / 44.30; -105.37 (Wyodak #2 (June 3, F1)) 00:35–? 1 mile (1.6 km) 10 yards (9.1 m) See previous event. Losses totaled $30.[23][20]

June 4 eventEdit

Confirmed tornadoes – Wednesday, June 4, 1958[nb 5][nb 6]
F# Location County / Parish State Start
Time (UTC) Path length Max. width Summary
F0 S of Paynesville to E of Marty Stearns MN 45°28′N 94°39′W / 45.47°N 94.65°W / 45.47; -94.65 (Paynesville (June 4, F0)) 22:20–? 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 33 yards (30 m) Tornado tracked from Lake Koronis to Pearl Lake, damaging a number of lakeside cottages. Damages were estimated at $30.[24][25]
F2 S of Albany to WSW of Five Points Stearns MN 45°36′N 94°35′W / 45.60°N 94.58°W / 45.60; -94.58 (Albany (June 4, F2)) 22:20–? 13.3 miles (21.4 km) 400 yards (370 m) Tornado skipped past St. Joseph and ended somewhere to the west of Sauk Rapids. 37 farms incurred at least some degree of damage. Two people were injured and damages were estimated at $250,000. Storm Data and Grazulis listed a total path length of 18 mi (29 km).[26][25][21] Barns were destroyed and trees were toppled.[citation needed]
F1 W of St. Martin Stearns MN 45°30′N 94°42′W / 45.50°N 94.70°W / 45.50; -94.70 (St. Martin (June 4, F1)) 22:20–? 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 33 yards (30 m) Tornado destroyed three barns, injured one person, and caused $30 in damage. Grazulis classified the tornado as an F2.[27][25][21]
F0 NW of Portage Cascade MT 47°42′N 111°12′W / 47.70°N 111.20°W / 47.70; -111.20 (Portage (June 4, FU)) 23:25–? 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 33 yards (30 m) Damages were estimated at $30.[28][29][25]
F5 WNW of Wildwood to Cedar Falls to NE of Colfax St. Croix, Dunn WI 44°54′N 92°20′W / 44.90°N 92.33°W / 44.90; -92.33 (Wildwood (June 4, F5) 23:30–? 33.7 miles (54.2 km) 880 yards (800 m) 21 deaths – See section on this tornado – 110 people were injured and damages were estimated at $75 million.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][25][21]
F4 W of Chippewa Falls to NE of Anson Chippewa WI 44°56′N 91°28′W / 44.93°N 91.47°W / 44.93; -91.47 (Chippewa Falls (June 4, F4)) 00:45–? 11.1 miles (17.9 km) 600 yards (550 m) 3 deaths – Tornado, generated by the same supercell as the Colfax F5, produced severe damage on the northern side of Chippewa Falls. The Glen Loch Motel and the Chippewa Rendering Plant were leveled, the latter of which was built of brick and concrete. Farms northeast of town were leveled as well. A total of 56 people were injured and damages were estimated at $250,000. Some sources list a fourth fatality. Tornado passed very close to Irvine Park.[38][25][21][34]
F3 W of Cadott to NW of Boyd Chippewa WI 44°57′N 91°10′W / 44.95°N 91.17°W / 44.95; -91.17 (Cadott (June 4, F3)) 01:00–? 4.3 miles (6.9 km) 300 yards (270 m) Tornado was related to the preceding two events. One home was destroyed on the west side of Cadott, possibly at F4-level intensity. Most of the media focused on impacts elsewhere, so there were few details about this event. Three people were injured and damages were estimated at $2.5 million.[39][25][21][34]
F1 W of Milford Seward NE 40°46′N 97°05′W / 40.77°N 97.08°W / 40.77; -97.08 (Milford (June 4, FU)) 01:00–? 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 10 yards (9.1 m) Damages were estimated at $25,000.[28][40]
F2 ESE of Murry to NE of Hay Stack Corner Rusk, Sawyer WI 45°35′N 91°06′W / 45.58°N 91.10°W / 45.58; -91.10 (Murry (June 4, F2)) 01:10–? 13.8 miles (22.2 km) 200 yards (180 m) Barns were destroyed and acres of forest were leveled. Damages were estimated at $250,000.[41][25][21]
F4 Fall Creek to SE of Cadott to W of Wien Eau Claire, Clark, Marathon WI 45°35′N 91°06′W / 45.58°N 91.1°W / 45.58; -91.1 (Fall Creek (June 4, F4)) 01:30–? 59.2 miles (95.3 km) 880 yards (800 m) 4 deaths – Tornado was the last member of the Colfax tornado family. Several farmhouses were destroyed by this large, long-tracked tornado. Damage occurred south of Boyd, Stanley, and Owen, as well as between Withee and Longwood. F1-level damage in Marathon County may have been related to a separate member of the tornado family. Three people were injured and damages were estimated at $5 million.[42][43][25][21][34]

Wildwood–Wilson–Knapp–Cedar Falls–Colfax, WisconsinEdit

Wildwood–Wilson–Knapp–Cedar Falls–Colfax, Wisconsin
F5 tornado
Max. rating1F5 tornado
Fatalities21 fatalities, 110 injuries
Damage$75 million (1958 USD)
$761 million (2023 USD)
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The deadliest tornado of the outbreak was the first member in a family of four intense tornadoes that tracked approximately 90 mi (140 km) across four counties, its forward speed averaging 52 mph (84 km/h). The first member of this family began approximately 4 mi (6.4 km) southwest of Woodville, Wisconsin, at 6:30 p.m. CDT (23:30 UTC). As it headed generally eastward or east-northeastward, the tornado claimed three lives: one near Wilson and two more just south of Knapp. Entering the northern outskirts of Menomonie, the tornado devastated the small settlement of Cedar Falls, destroying 24 of the 25 homes in that community. Four fatalities occurred in or near Cedar Falls, along with several injuries.

After striking Cedar Falls, the tornado turned more to the northeast, and struck the northwestern side of Colfax. Eyewitnesses reported two tornadoes: one in northern Colfax and another just south of downtown. The latter tornado reportedly hit the southeastern section of Colfax. Damage in Colfax alone was estimated at $2 million, and about half of the buildings in town were destroyed. "Dozens" of homes were leveled, several of which were swept away, leaving empty foundations behind. Farmhouses were leveled east of town as well. Cars were picked up and thrown up to 400 yd (370 m; 1,200 ft) from WIS 40, one of which was found wrapped around the side of a small steel-and-concrete bridge that collapsed during the tornado. Telephone poles were snapped and trees were debarked as well. About 432 farms were damaged or destroyed, along with another 1,032 structures. Debris was found as far as 75 mi (121 km) distant, in Sheldon. At least 12 people within Colfax, and as many as 15 if persons nearby are included, were killed.

The Colfax tornado was the first official F5 tornado to strike the state since records were made official in 1950, although the 1899 New Richmond tornado is unofficially considered to be F5 as well. The next F5 tornado to strike Wisconsin was on June 8, 1984, when an overnight tornado destroyed Barneveld, killing nine people. Tornado researcher Thomas P. Grazulis assigned an F4 rating to the Colfax tornado in his Significant Tornadoes, but subsequently listed the event as an F5 in his supplementary report F5–F6 Tornadoes.[44]

Non-tornadic effectsEdit

On June 4, 3-to-4-inch-diameter (7.6 to 10.2 cm) hail left accumulations of 2 to 4 in (51 to 102 mm) southwest of Goehner, Seward County, Nebraska.[45]


Aftermath and recoveryEdit

The storms, in addition to the fatalities and destruction, also cut utility and communication services through the region thus isolating many communities until help was provided from several areas including from the Twin Cities region about an hour west of the affected areas. Then-Governor of Wisconsin Vernon Thomson ordered three groups of National Guard troops in the affected area for rescue and rehabilitation duties.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ All losses are in 1958 USD unless otherwise noted.
  2. ^ An outbreak is generally defined as a group of at least six tornadoes (the number sometimes varies slightly according to local climatology) with no more than a six-hour gap between individual tornadoes. An outbreak sequence, prior to (after) the start of modern records in 1950, is defined as a period of no more than two (one) consecutive days without at least one significant (F2 or stronger) tornado.[2]
  3. ^ The Fujita scale was devised under the aegis of scientist T. Theodore Fujita in the early 1970s. Prior to the advent of the scale in 1971, tornadoes in the United States were officially unrated.[3][4] While the Fujita scale has been superseded by the Enhanced Fujita scale in the U.S. since February 1, 2007,[5] Canada utilized the old scale until April 1, 2013;[6] nations elsewhere, like the United Kingdom, apply other classifications such as the TORRO scale.[7]
  4. ^ Historically, the number of tornadoes globally and in the United States was and is likely underrepresented: research by Grazulis on annual tornado activity suggests that, as of 2001, only 53% of yearly U.S. tornadoes were officially recorded. Documentation of tornadoes outside the United States was historically less exhaustive, owing to the lack of monitors in many nations and, in some cases, to internal political controls on public information.[8] Most countries only recorded tornadoes that produced severe damage or loss of life.[9] Significant low biases in U.S. tornado counts likely occurred through the early 1990s, when advanced NEXRAD was first installed and the National Weather Service began comprehensively verifying tornado occurrences.[10]
  5. ^ a b All dates are based on the local time zone where the tornado touched down; however, all times are in Coordinated Universal Time and dates are split at midnight CST/CDT for consistency.
  6. ^ a b Prior to 1994, only the average widths of tornado paths were officially listed.[18]


  1. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, Event Reports
  2. ^ Schneider, Russell S.; Brooks, Harold E.; Schaefer, Joseph T. (2004). Tornado Outbreak Day Sequences: Historic Events and Climatology (1875-2003) (PDF). 22nd Conf. Severe Local Storms. Hyannis, Massachusetts: American Meteorological Society. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  3. ^ Grazulis 1993, p. 141.
  4. ^ Grazulis 2001a, p. 131.
  5. ^ Edwards, Roger (5 March 2015). "Enhanced F Scale for Tornado Damage". The Online Tornado FAQ (by Roger Edwards, SPC). Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-Scale)". Environment and Climate Change Canada. Environment and Climate Change Canada. 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  7. ^ "The International Tornado Intensity Scale". Tornado and Storm Research Organisation. Tornado and Storm Research Organisation. 2016. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. ^ Grazulis 2001a, pp. 251–4.
  9. ^ Edwards, Roger (5 March 2015). "The Online Tornado FAQ (by Roger Edwards, SPC)". Storm Prediction Center: Frequently Asked Questions about Tornadoes. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  10. ^ Cook & Schaefer 2008, p. 3135.
  11. ^ Multiple sources:
  12. ^ Multiple sources:
  13. ^ Multiple sources:
  14. ^ Multiple sources:
  15. ^ Multiple sources:
  16. ^ Multiple sources:
  17. ^ Finch, Jonathan D. "Historical Tornado Cases for North America 1950-1959". Bangladesh Tornadoes. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  18. ^ Brooks 2004, p. 310.
  19. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10159229
  20. ^ a b c Storm Data 1958, p. 208.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Grazulis 1993, p. 1015.
  22. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10159230
  23. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10159231
  24. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10054342
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i Storm Data 1958, p. 209.
  26. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10054344
  27. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10054343
  28. ^ a b "Storm Prediction Center WCM Page". Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  29. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10069983
  30. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149030
  31. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149031
  32. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149032
  33. ^ "F5 and EF5 Tornadoes of the United States". Storm Prediction Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  34. ^ a b c d "Tornado Season" (PDF). Currents. Eau Claire, Wisconsin: Chippewa Valley Museum. Summer 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  35. ^ Blakely, Ron. "Colfax Tornado (1958)". Tornado. Colfax, Wisconsin: Colfax Public Library. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  36. ^ a b Beitler, Stu, ed. (March 21, 2008) [June 5, 1958]. Written at Menomonie, Wisconsin. "Tornado Kills 28 in West Wisconsin". Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. Oshkosh, Wisconsin: Associated Press. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  37. ^ Fanning, Susan (May 15, 2000). "Colfax tornado cuts deadly swath". American Local History Network. Eau Claire County, Wisconsin: The United States Genealogy Network, Inc. Archived from the original on 22 June 2001. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  38. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149033
  39. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149034
  40. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10071629
  41. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149037
  42. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149035
  43. ^ Storm Data Publication 1958, #10149036
  44. ^ Multiple sources:
  45. ^ Multiple sources: