Five tornadoes ripped across west central Minnesota last week


WILLMAR — The National Weather Service in Chanhassen has confirmed that a series of five tornadoes swept across west central Minnesota last week, damaging numerous farm sites and small-town businesses and uprooting trees.

All of the tornadoes were ranked as EF-1, with winds that ranged from 88 mph to 100 mph.

According to the weather service report, the storm started brewing just before midnight on Sept. 19 in Chippewa County where a short-lived tornado with winds of 88 mph traveled about two miles across the south side of Montevideo.

Damage to trees, siding and shingles was reported there.

As it traveled northeast, the second tornado hit Swift and Kandiyohi counties around 12:30 a.m. Sept. 20.

That twister had winds of 90 mph and had a path that was about nine miles long and 550 yards wide.

The winds damaged the roof of the Bethesda Lutheran Church in rural Murdock and may have caused some structural damage. About 40 percent of the trees on the church property, including the cemetery, were uprooted or snapped off.

Church and community volunteers came out in force to help with the cleanup.

As it took a diagonal path, the tornado struck the Darrel Henry farm, located between Murdock and Sunburg.

The damage was significant there with all of his grain bins — with a total capacity of 350,000 bushels — destroyed. All that remained standing of his grain handling setup was a dryer and a holding bin, leaving Henry with some tough grain storage decisions to make before harvest gets underway.

A farm shop where tools and parts were stored was also blown apart, and a new house under construction on the farm site was damaged.

The tornado kept rolling to Sunburg where the roof of the 104 Club restaurant and bar was damaged, causing it to be closed a couple days while repairs were made.

The third tornado was clocked at 100 mph and ripped across Swift and Pope counties in a trail that was 880 yards wide and about nine miles long.

According to the weather service, this tornado hit several farms and homes on the east side of Camp Lake, where outbuildings were demolished, a mobile home rolled and a modular home damaged.

From there the storm system moved into Stearns County and a fourth tornado was detected with peak winds of 75 mph.

At a little more than a mile long and 330 yards wide, the tornado targeted the northwest edge of Belgrade where dozens of large, mature trees were uprooted.

Some trees fell on houses and others on power lines, leaving some residents and businesses without power for several hours and some for a couple days.

City crews and homeowners were busy in Belgrade cleaning up the debris although some home repairs will take much longer.

The fifth tornado rolled through fields and farms in Stearns County near Elrosa, where outbuildings were destroyed on at least four different farms. Peak winds were clocked at 95 mph and took a path that was about nine miles long and 440 yards wide.

A sixth tornado was also recorded in Todd County in central Minnesota where several homes were damaged by 95 mph winds.

The good news part of the report is that there were no injuries reported as a result of the storm, according to the weather service.