Willmar, Minn., sirens sound in error initially but later storm brings hail, funnel clouds
WILLMAR -- Given the hot, steamy weather Sunday afternoon, many people were perhaps expecting some stormy weather.
But when the tornado sirens started blaring in Kandiyohi County around 6:15 p.m., there were more than a few puzzled looks as eyes scanned the sky for signs of a wall cloud or rotation.
Shortly after the sirens began sounding, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office notified emergency responders that the sirens had been activated by mistake but advised that a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect.
About two hours later, however, the weather worsened, storm and tornado warnings were issued and weather spotters were dispatched throughout the county.
Sirens sounded in New London, the city of Kandiyohi and other parts of the county, including the county parks on Games Lake, Green Lake and Diamond Lake, where campers were advised to take shelter.
There were reports of strong winds and pea-sized hail from spotters northwest of New London.
Around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, there were unconfirmed reports of cloud rotations in the southeast part of Willmar and in Prinsburg made by untrained spotters.
At about 8:45 p.m. trained spotters reported seeing a funnel cloud near Kandiyohi and there was a confirmed tornado spotted near Spicer, according to the National Weather Service.
Reports of damage in the first wave of storms were primarily north of Kandiyohi County, including Stearns County, where there were reports that strong winds uprooted hundreds of trees and downed power lines.
The second wave of strong thunderstorms moved through the southern edge of Kandiyohi County and hit Chippewa County, Yellow Medicine County and Renville County where heavy rains, wind and funnel clouds were reported.
Sunday's storm may have ripped through some of the same locations that were hit with a tornado last week.
At press time there were limited reports of local damage available, but there were preliminary reports of street and small stream flooding and crop damage from hail, as well as damage to trees and power lines from high winds.