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Swift County twister traveled 10 miles

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BENSON -- The first reports of a tornado being sighted in Swift County were made at 4:16 p.m. Tuesday when spotters saw a funnel cloud north of Benson that was heading east.

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The tornado traveled about 7 to 10 miles and was on the ground for about 10 minutes, Bill McGeary, Swift County emergency management director, said.

"It was moving at a pretty darn good clip," he said.

Two large turkey barns located in Camp Lake Township and owned by Jennie-O Turkey Store were totally destroyed, said McGeary. "They're virtually gone."

Insulation and tin from those barns were strewn across farm fields for miles. McGeary said some of that debris was "raining" from the sky 14 miles away. "It was a pretty good-sized funnel cloud to have that much carry."

Most of the birds, valued at $500,000, were not harmed, he said.

The county park in Swift Falls "took the biggest hit," along with two farms located near Swift Falls. About a half-dozen homes in Swift Falls had broken windows and many downed trees. Electricity was also out for several hours but was restored later Tuesday night.

Swift County Sheriff Scott Mattison said there are no warning sirens in Swift Falls, but citizens "exercised a tremendous amount of good judgment by monitoring weather conditions and by taking shelter when the storm hit."

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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