Tea residents and all of Lincoln County were under a Tornado warning in the late night hours of Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. The first Tornado Warning for northern Lincoln County, including the southern portions of Sioux Falls, was issued at 11:04 p.m. The remainder of Sioux Falls was placed in a Tornado Warning at 11:27 p.m. The Tornado Warning was later extended to 12:00 a.m.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary storm reports from September 10-11, 2019 a line of severe thunderstorms produced significant damage across the greater Sioux Falls metro late Tuesday evening and overnight.
One tornado has been confirmed so far. After conducting a damage survey Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said an EF-2 tornado touched down near O’Gorman High School at 11:28 p.m. Tuesday.
It went 0.7 miles towards Plaza 41 with maximum wind speeds at 125 mph and ended at 11:29 p.m. The max width was 75 yards and no injuries or deaths were reported in connection with the tornado near Plaza 41.
The Tea Volunteer Fire Department reported they had no weather related calls in the city but were out weather spotting. They noted that with the exception of a few branches down the community faired very well.
Tea Pizza Ranch Owner, Todd Pharis also owns the Pizza Ranch in Sioux Falls in Plaza 41, at the corner of 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue, along with partners Mark Moeller and son Michael Pharis.
Michael Pharis said he was at the Pizza Ranch when the tornado came through.
Michael said, “My General Manager Cody and I were in the building in the kitchen and we were safe in there.”
The ceiling over the party room and arcade though blew off. Michael said the neighboring businesses, Tuesday Morning and Dreamers Mattress Company “completely lost the ceiling over them.”
Michael also reported that the wind blew in the front of the building like a truck, and went through the whole store, blowing a hole out the back through the arcade.
Other damage, such as broken windows and trees down also affected their delivery vehicles.
As of Wednesday morning, Michael said they are waiting on insurance.
“We’re waiting to figure out what we are supposed to do,” he said.
The building is owned by Dunham Properties, once insurance is in, structural engineers will come in and the parties involved will decide whether to tear the structure down or rebuild.
Michael added that Pizza Ranch Corporate Construction representatives were already on scene to assess the damage and to help determine cost of loss.
“That’s our main focus now,” Michael said, “How long will it take? We know we need to get it back up and running.”
Additional thunderstorms were in the forecast for September 11 as well, and the NWS reported a risk of additional heavy rainfall with a Flash Flood Watch in effect. The risk for heavy rain was to be from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.