Severe storms cause damage in several Minnesota communities

Published 9:47 am Saturday, September 22, 2018

FARIBAULT  — Several tornadoes struck as severe storms packing powerful winds and heavy rain left a trail of destruction across southern Minnesota overnight, the National Weather Service said Friday.

The extreme weather late Thursday damaged homes and businesses, and turned a small airport upside down, but didn’t appear to leave anyone with physical injuries.

The weather agency confirmed that tornadoes struck near Granada and Morristown, and said radar data and spotter reports indicated a few additional tornadoes likely occurred elsewhere. Twisters were also reported near Waterville, Medford, Northfield and Randolph. The hardest-hit area was Rice County, around 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Minneapolis.

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A suspected tornado flattened a restored 100-year-old barn near Northfield that had been a popular venue for weddings. Owners Pat and Tammy Winter were beneath the building when the storm hit. They said on Facebook that they and their animals weren’t injured, but that they are devastated by the financial loss.

“Our hearts are broken, last night’s tornado left our precious Red Barn in pieces,” they wrote.

The municipal airport in Faribault remained closed Friday after sustaining heavy damage. Hangars collapsed on top of planes and several aircraft that had been parked outside were tossed around by the winds.

Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn said about 36 homes sustained damage in Morristown and around a dozen were uninhabitable.

“We’ve had no reports of injuries, which is surprising when you see the wrath that this storm brought on to our county,” Dunn said.

Up to 4 inches of rain fell in some places. The Twin Cities posted a daily rainfall record of 3.28 inches (8.33 centimeters), beating the old mark of 1.82 inches (4.62 centimeters) from 1902.

Austin and Mower County received what amounted to a glancing blow from Thursday’s storms. A tree branch falling across a power line caused a three-hour power outage in LeRoy, but aside from that the area was unscathed.

Austin’s Turtle Creek was placed under a flood warning through Saturday evening or until it is cancelled. Minor flooding had been reported and the river was expected to crest at around 11 feet before dipping below flood stage Saturday morning.

Temperatures for the rest of the week will be fall-like to greet the first days of fall. Today will see a high of 63 and sunday a high of 70. Tuesday will dip down to the low 60s.

— The Austin Daily Herald contributed to this report