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Thunderstorm causes damage in Swift County, Minn., west central area

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Thunderstorm causes damage in Swift County, Minn., west central area
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

BENSON -- A thunderstorm packing rain, hail and strong wind early Friday morning roared through the west central area, including Swift County, damaging many homes, outbuildings and trees.

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The National Weather Service office in Chanhassen listed a wind speed of 85 mph at 1:33 a.m. Friday in Benson. The weather service said the city received 1.10 inches of rain.

John Holtz, Swift County sheriff, described the wind as "straight-line'' wind since the storm affected such a wide area. Hardest hit areas were Benson and Swift Falls along with Danvers and DeGraff.

Holtz said Benson was without power for much of the time, with power coming back on around 8 a.m. Friday for some city areas. He said crews were working to restore power.

The sheriff said buildings were damaged by fallen trees. He said turkey barns were destroyed and shingles were blown off. Several power poles were snapped off and power lines were lying on the ground.

Holtz said part of a grain elevator in Danvers blew off and landed on the railroad tracks. As of Friday, he said his office had not received any reports of injuries as cleanup was underway.

A weather service spokesman said a tornado warning was issued at 1:30 a.m. for the south side of Lake Minnewaska in Pope County, but no tornado damage was reported there.

"Everything we see on our radar suggests straight-line winds across Kandiyohi County and western Minnesota,'' said Todd Krause, weather service meteorologist in Chanhassen.

Krause said the phrase "straight-line'' is kind of a misnomer. The actual description, he said, is downburst.

"Sometimes as a downburst is coming on down out of the storm, it's almost like water coming out of a garden hose that you're pointing down at the ground,'' he said. "The stream of wind will sometimes corkscrew on its way down, and damage such as twisted trees can occur.''

Nancy Feldman, Sunburg city clerk, reported the storm caused fallen branches and cracked trees. She was told that a tree had fallen through the roof of the funeral home and that a large silo blew down and demolished a barn at a rural Murdock farm.

The weekend forecast includes a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms this morning, some of which could produce heavy rain. The sky will be partly sunny with a high near 86 and south-southeast wind 10 to 15 mph.

Showers and thunderstorms are likely tonight. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half an inch are possible.

Sunday is forecast with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Sky will be partly sunny with a high near 85. A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms are forecast for Sunday night.

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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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