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Update 5:10 p.m.: Storms hits west central Minnesota

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Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Thunderstorms with heavy rainfall, large hail and strong winds swept through west central Minnesota mid-day Thursday.

A tornado warning has been extended until 5 p.m. for Meeker County. The tornado warning for Kandiyohi County has expired. Much of central Minnesota remains under a tornado watch until early evening.

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Tornado warnings had been issued throughout the afternoon in Chippewa, Renville, Kandiyohi and Meeker counties in west central Minnesota. Those warnings have all expired.

The storm track through southern Kandiyohi County created concerns in some school districts. One bus from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School sought out safe shelter until the stormed passed. Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg kept its students following dismissal because a tornado was reported in the Prinsburg area, said Superintendent Rod De Boer.

De Boer said the school received information that it would be unsafe to put the students out on the road with the report of a tornado near the school. Central Minnesota Christian School kept three busloads of students at the school for about 30 minutes and two other buses for about an hour. At 4:15 p.m. Thursday, De Boer said all the students were dismissed and on their way home.

The strong weather system first struck late morning in Yellow Medicine, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties. The system then moved northeast toward central Minnesota and is headed towards northeast Minnesota.

Golf ball-sized hail and fallen trees have been reported early Thursday morning in Dawson and Swift County.

According to Dawson City Clerk Brent Powers, golf ball-sized hail fell in Dawson around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The hail was quickly followed at 9 a.m. by almost 2 inches of rain.

The Swift County Sheriff's Office dispatch reported a fallen tree in the county accompanying the rain falling in the area.

Meeker County's sheriff's department reported a mere trace of severe weather, according to administrative assistant Jeanne Sellen. The estimated rainfall in the area was only a trace with three-hundredths of an inch.

The forecast for Kandiyohi County and surrounding counties is mostly cloudy in the evening then becoming partly cloudy. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows around 65. South winds 15 to 20 mph. Parts of the region remain under a flash flood watch in effect through friday morning.

A hazardous weather alert is in effect for most of central Minnesota into the evening.

National Weather Service radar in Duluth showed that some areas of Cass and Crow Wing Counties had received more than two inches of rain today. Meanwhile, sustained east-southeast winds up to 30 mph, with gusts to 40 mph, were reported.

A wind advisory has been issued for Itasca, Cass, Aitkin and Crow Wing counties until 5 p.m. today, with wet ground and high winds likely to topple some trees, the Weather Service said. Severe thunderstorms were located north and west of St. Cloud, moving northeast.

The weather system is slowly moving into northeastern Minnesota where the ground already is wet and streams rising from Tuesday's heavy rain.

Rain should end by Friday afternoon with a warm and pleasant weekend forecast.

For updates, check back to www.wctrib.com or read the West Central Tribune Friday for further details.

E-mail your storm damage or flood photos to storm@wctrib.com.

The Associated Press and the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story.

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West Central Tribune (320) 235-6769 customer support
Kelly Boldan has been the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar, since joining the newspaper in October 2001. He has previously worked as the editor at the Bemidji Pioneer, also part of Forum Communications Co., and other daily newspapers, online Web sites, and weekly agriculture newspapers in Wisconsin, Texas and Minnesota. You can follow via Twitter at @KellyBoldanWCT or read about the Tribune's newsroom blog at: insidescoop.areavoices.com or the Tribune's blog at: westcentraltribune.areavoices.com.
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