Extreme weather comes to Marion County

One of Friday night’s tornadoes in Marion County. This one moved eastward to Hillsboro from Goessel. Photos by Staci Silhan.

Hillsboro and surrounding areas experienced severe weather including tornado warnings Friday night. Photos by Karrie Rathbone.
A panoramic photo of the supercell as it moved in toward Hillsboro from Goessel. Photo by Dale Dalke
Tabor College students attending the Junior/Senior Banquet held at the Elgin on Friday night had to shelter in the basement. Photo by Celeste Worthy.


Marion County residents were forced to take shelter for the first time in many years on Friday, April 29 when the weather quickly shifted and multiple tornadoes suddenly formed throughout the county.

“The National Weather Service confirmed four out of the seven reported tornados. There was also some damage to residents and agriculture buildings with some road debris,” said Marion County Emergency Management Director Randy Frank.

There were no reported injuries or deaths.

Two of the four tornadoes had an EF-1 rating: one was three miles southeast of Durham and one was four miles north of Tampa.

According to the National Weather Service, the Tampa tornado happened at 7:57 p.m. with established peak winds of 96 mph. The path length was 0.9 miles with a max width of 30 yards. The Durham one occurred at 8:03 p.m. with established peak winds of 95 mph. Its path length was 0.9 miles with a max width of 50 yards.

Multiple weather alerts went out with both tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings and soon after, tornado sirens went off notifying all to take shelter.

Tabor College juniors and seniors were all at their end-of-the-year formal banquet at the Historic Elgin Hotel in Marion when the sirens went off. They all huddled together in the hotel’s basement.

“Students did a great job of listening and taking cover and the Elgin did a phenomenal job taking care of us, said Michael Klaassen, Tabor College Digital Content Manager.

Frank offered some advice for future bad weather. He said that in order to be accurate in storm reporting, there are a few things to remember :

  1. Be in a safe location.
  2. Attend the annual Storm Fury class put on by the National Weather Service.
  3. Know where you are in relation to the storm (for example I am at U.S 56 and Indigo looking west and the tornado is approximately 1 mile north traveling east.)
  4. Report the information to the Marion County Sheriff Office.

“The Marion County Emergency Management Office recommends that when there is severe weather identify the safe places in your area if you need to respond to one. Tornados can be extremely dangerous. Safe places are storm shelters and basements, but if not available, an interior room without windows can also be protective. If you receive a warning take safety immediately,” said Frank.

Many towns have shelters marked and are opened up during inclement weather or you can call your city office to get a list. The Free Press will have information in next week’s issue with shelter locations for towns throughout Marion County.

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