Weather Forecast


Tornado east of Milan, Minn., damages farm; thunderstorm produces several funnels

This photo shows the ground covered in hail Saturday in a yard in Clara City. Storm sirens were activated in the city several times, but funnels sighted were believed to be cold-weather funnels. (Submitted photo courtesy of Kate DuHoux)

WILLMAR -- A Saturday afternoon thunderstorm produced numerous funnel clouds and one tornado that touched down and damaged a farm between Milan and Big Bend. No injuries were reported.

A Chippewa County Sheriff's Office dispatcher said the first call was received at 3:11 p.m. Saturday.

"There were funnel clouds all over,'' the dispatcher said Sunday, but the only touchdown occurred at the farm where a barn and granaries were damaged.

A deputy checked the scene, but no other details were available Sunday.

At 4:04 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities issued a tornado warning for northwestern Renville County, southwestern Kandiyohi County and east central Chippewa County. The weather service said the most dangerous part of the storm was near Clara City.

Roger Knapper, Clara City public works director, said the county sounded city sirens six times. The city received small hail and about half an inch of rain, with about seven-tenths of rain falling north of town. He said there was no damage to speak of.

"We had pea-size hail. The ground was completely white,'' Knapper said.

Spotters were out for about an hour. They sighted a funnel cloud on Highway 7 but Knapper didn't know the location. Spotters also thought they saw a funnel just west of Clara City. Knapper thought many of the sightings were cold-weather funnels.

"We're fortunate. We made it through another one,'' said Knapper.

There were no reports of storm damage in Kandi-yohi County.

The Redwood County Sheriff's Office reported damage to a farm in Johnsonville Township as well as damage to sheds, pole barns and power lines.

Suzanne Schmiesing, who grows flowers south of Lucan, told KEYC-TV it was frightening because she didn't have sight of her children when it struck Saturday afternoon.

Jeff Otto, who lives nearby, says he saw a funnel develop right over the farm, and then watched the rooms of the greenhouses blow away.

The weather service received multiple reports of funnels with brief touchdowns in the county.

Schmiesing says three greenhouses were missing and another was wrecked. She estimates it caused at least $20,000 in damage to her property.

Schmiesing opened her flower farm for the season on Saturday. She expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support from neighbors who showed up to help.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150