Tornado Injures Nine, One Critically, in North Dakota

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) -
This photo, taken on Monday and provided by Jill Helmuth, shows a tornado touching down before heading towards Watford City, N.D. (AP Photo/Jill Helmuth)
This photo, taken on Monday and provided by Jill Helmuth, shows a tornado touching down before heading towards Watford City, N.D. (AP Photo/Jill Helmuth)

A rare North Dakota tornado that critically injured a 15-year-old girl and hurt eight other people at a workers’ camp in the heart of the state’s booming oil patch packed winds that peaked at 120 mph, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

The twister touched down Monday night at a camp just south of Watford City, about 50 miles southeast of Williston, and damaged or destroyed 15 trailers. The 15-year-old, who was from out of state and visiting an aunt and uncle, was flown to a Minot hospital. She was in an intensive-care unit with a head injury but expected to survive, McKenzie County Emergency Manager Jerry Samuelson said Tuesday.

Samuelson did not release the girl’s name or the community in which she lives.

Eight other people were treated at a Watford City hospital for less serious injuries. The American Red Cross said eight residents spent the night at a shelter at Watford City’s Civic Center and that several families were among those displaced.

Tornadoes are rarely reported in McKenzie County, with only 14 since 1950, with no fatalities, according to weather service data. Monday’s tornado, which hit about 7:50 p.m., was an EF-2 in strength on the 0-to-5 enhanced Fujita or EF scale, the weather service said Tuesday afternoon.

The camp hit by the tornado was relatively small. Samuelson said some camps in McKenzie County have hundreds of trailers and that the possibility of injuries or damage would have been much higher if one of those had been hit.

Dan Yorgason, who lives in a neighboring camp, filmed the tornado from inside his truck.

“There was literally nowhere to go,” he said. “The tornado was coming down the hill along our only escape route. There was nowhere for us to go. It was crazy.”