Tornado may have touched down near Brownsdale Saturday

Published 7:09 am Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The start of a new week meant clean-up for a number of rural Mower County residents who were possibly hit by a tornado Saturday night.

The National Weather Service reported that staff would be surveying an area north of Brownsdale on Tuesday, examining damage to determine if in fact a twister touched down. Todd Shea, a NWS meteorologist out of La Crosse, Wis., said there was at least one unconfirmed funnel cloud sighting Saturday.

There were no reported injuries.

Tornado or not, residents felt the effects of Saturday’s storm.

“I didn’t know exactly what happened,” said Bob Minto, who lives on 300th Street west of Highway 56. “It was really dark and there was lots of rain. (The wind) must have come right down the road.”

Minto was home on Saturday watching TV at around 10:30 p.m. when he started having electrical problems. Then, the rain picked up and strong winds battered his house.

On Monday, Minto was in his yard, cleaning up debris from a few fallen trees. He said he considered himself lucky all in all — he wasn’t hurt, and beyond some damage to a panel on his deck and to a frontyard flagpole, his property was unscathed.

Less than a mile to the west on 300th Street, Barb Sorensen had a bit more property damage to deal with. One of her sheds had roof tiles blown off, with the pieces scattering in a nearby field. A silo also had its top blown off. Another shed was nearly blown over, and with it now slanting badly, Sorensen said she thinks it might have to come down.

What did all this damage?

“We felt like it was a tornado,” Sorensen said.

However, she didn’t see any funnel clouds. Instead, when the winds picked up Saturday night, Sorensen and several family members scurried inside to the basement. She said the winds came on quick, making opening the front door a challenge.

“(The storm) scared me when it came that fast,” Sorensen said.

Like Minto, Sorensen spent Monday morning cleaning up debris. In addition to the shed damage — which Sorensen said would be looked at by her insurance company — the rural property owner estimated that 20 trees were down on her yard.

Luckily, however, Sorensen’s crops were hardly damaged, and she said she would be harvesting peas later Monday after clean-up work.

Down the road, Everett Dennis is also dealing with a ripped-up roof on a shed.

“It just peeled the thing right off,” he said of Saturday night’s storm.

That night, Dennis and his wife were in a trailer on his property when the storm came through. Because the wind picked up so fast and so much rain was falling, Dennis said he decided to wait out the weather in the trailer.

“It was rocking and rolling,” he said with a chuckle.

Now, Dennis is looking to clean-up his residence so he can sell it — the property is on the market, and Dennis and his wife are looking at moving into a restored home in Dexter within the next two years.

However, he said with any more big storms, there might not be any trees still standing on his property when it’s sold.

“Shortly, we’re not going to have any big oaks left,” Dennis said.

Indeed, the last few weeks have been marked by bad weather. Nine days before Saturday’s storm, another fierce system came through southeast Minnesota. Austin was hit by rain, but the Blooming Prairie and Albert Lea areas were rocked by tornados. One person died in rural Freeborn county during the June 17 tornado, while a number of farm properties were damaged as well.

In the short term, residents can breathe easy — this week’s NWS forecast calls for mainly sunny and clear days, with temperatures topping out in the mid-80s. Rain could come on Saturday, as the NWS is calling for a 30 percent chance for precipitation. There is also a 40 percent chance of rain on the Fourth of July, which is Sunday.