When an EF-4 tornado ravaged Northwood, N.D., 12 years ago this week, the event was recorded not only by the media, but by hundreds of people snapping photos on their own.
In 1957, when an F-5 tornado struck the north end of Fargo, photos of the storm and its aftermath taken by Forum photographers helped the newspaper win a Pulitzer Prize.
But prior to 1900, twister witnesses could only rely upon their own memory to recall a storm's wrath. On Aug. 28, 1884, that changed when what is believed to be the first-ever photograph of a tornado was taken.
The storm was centered around Howard, Dakota Territory (in what is now South Dakota). It demolished one farm, located south of Bridgewater, S.D. Four people were killed and another two were injured. Based upon historical records, meteorologists can deduce that the storm was most like either an F-3 or F-4 on the Fujita scale.
A man named F.N. Robinson is believed to have taken this photo from the street in Howard, approximately 2 miles from where the storm touched ground.
Another photographer from Huron, S.D., is believed to have taken multiple photographs of the same tornado an hour earlier, but they were destroyed during the engraving process.