Storm spins up tornado, knocks out power at 40k homes in western Minn.

Published 8:30 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

John Enger

MPR News/90.1 FM

The storm system that knocked out power to 40,000 homes also spun up at least one tornado in western Minnesota.

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National Weather Service storm spotters reported the tornado touching down south of Hancock about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Crews worked through the night to restore power at the thousands of homes affected. By late morning, Xcel Energy spokesman Matt Lindstrom said only 7,000 customers were without power — many in the east metro area.

Vincent Maciej, a local crop consultant and aspiring storm chaser, was out in his truck looking for funnel clouds when the tornado touched down. He’s not sure how strong it was, but said it was by far the most photogenic tornado he’s ever seen.

“It was daylight, it wasn’t rain wrapped, and it was fully touched down,” he said. “And it was a good shape.”

Windblown sand peppered his windshield as he followed the tornado. He said it tore through fields and lakes for roughly 6 miles — dissipating near the small farm town of Cyrus. He says the tornado didn’t appear to cause any injuries or property damage.

“I did see some tree damage,” he said, “but it’s a pretty rural area.”

The National Weather service also reported a second possible tornado to the west, near Graceville.