Tornado rated EF- 3
WILLMAR -- The National Weather Service has determined that the tornado that hit the Willmar area Friday evening was a low-end, EF-3 tornado.
Anytime a tornado is rated as a three, it is classified as a "major" tornado, said Todd Krause, a meteorologist with the service. An EF-3 rating has winds in the 136-165 range.
A "low-end" rating means winds were most likely in the 136-150 mph range, said Krause.
With a scale of zero to five, Krause said Minnesota usually only gets one or two tornados a year in the EF-3 category. The Willmar tornado, however, was the third this year for the state.
"We don't get that many tornados rated a three in any given year," said Krause.
The rating was based on the severity of damage.
A survey team from the National Weather Service toured sites Saturday that were hit by the tornado. They were assisted by Kandiyohi County Emergency Management director Don Ericson and Deputy Director Kim Lindahl.
The tornado first touched down a half mile north of Priam, along County Road 116. It traveled east, over Highway 71, and continued along County Road 19. It traveled eight miles before it dissipated four miles southeast of Willmar. The maximum width of the tornado was 200 yards.
Krause said eye-witness accounts of the tornado appearing and disappearing are because humidity, cloud droplets or debris are what make a tornado visible when it is beginning to form. The fierce winds of a tornado can still be present even if it can't always be seen, he said. Trained spotters are taught to watch for those signs during storms and "know not to be fooled," he said.
There were also reports of a secondary tornado rotating around the main tornado. That can only be confirmed by photos or videos, which can be sent to the National Weather Service through their Web site: www.weather.gov/twincities, and send an e-mail to the webmaster.
Krause said the visibility was so good on Friday that the Weather Serviced fielded reports from Renville, Meeker and even McLeod County that residents there had seen the Willmar tornado.