Weather Service confirms at least six tornadoes from Friday storms in Minnesota

Published 10:44 am Monday, August 17, 2020

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By Andrew Krueger

The National Weather Service has confirmed at least six tornadoes from Friday’s severe storms that swept across Minnesota, with storm surveys still under way.

That’s as crews continued working Sunday morning to restore power to more than 2,000 homes and businesses in the Twin Cities.

There were no reports of injuries from Friday’s storms that affected a large swath of Minnesota, bringing not just tornadoes but also damaging straight-line winds, hail and flooding.

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Survey teams from the Weather Service’s Twin Cities office determined the strongest of Friday’s tornadoes was an EF-1 that tracked for just over two miles in McLeod County, between Biscay and Glencoe. It had winds estimated at up to 95 mph; survey crews found damage to trees and some outbuildings.

The other five tornadoes were rated EF-0, the lowest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. They were:

  • one that tracked for just over three miles near Spicer, with maximum winds of 70 mph. It caused tree damage and flipped some boats and docks on Green Lake.
  • one that covered a two-mile path along the Kandiyohi-Meeker county line with winds of up to 85 mph, with numerous trees uprooted or snapped off.
  • one that tracked for just under two miles north of Brownton with winds up to 85 mph. Survey crews found damage to trees and a grain silo; a trailer was overturned.
  • one that briefly touched down in Crystal with winds up to 75 mph. The tornado — and accompanying downburst winds — caused significant tree damage and some roof damage in parts of that Twin Cities suburb and neighboring communities.
  • one that briefly touched down at Reitz Lake near Waconia, damaging trees, a boat and a boat lift. Winds were estimated at up to 70 mph.

The Twin Cities office said additional damage surveys may be conducted where other possible tornadoes were sighted.

The Weather Service offices in Duluth and Grand Forks also were assessing reported tornado sightings. In the Grand Forks forecast area, a storm chaser reported three tornadoes west of Elbow Lake, Minn., on Friday afternoon.

Those sightings had not been verified by damage surveys as of midday Sunday.

Xcel Energy reported about 700 customers without power in the Twin Cities as of 2:20 p.m. Sunday — down from 2,200 on Sunday morning and down from more than 100,000 at the peak of the outages Friday night. Xcel said its crews aimed to have power restored to most customers by Sunday afternoon.