Tornadoes in Minnesota follow vicious weekend of storms across region

Forum News Service Storms continued across the region Monday night following a weekend of hail, strong winds and lots of rain. Flooding led to road closings in Wisconsin's Bayfield, Ashland, Washburn and Sawyer counties this morning. For up to da...



Forum News Service

Storms continued across the region Monday night following a weekend of hail, strong winds and lots of rain. Flooding led to road closings in Wisconsin’s Bayfield, Ashland, Washburn and Sawyer counties this morning. For up to date Wisconsin traffic alerts, call 511 or visit . In Douglas County, County Road W is closed at the Nemadji River due to a log jam under the bridge that is causing water over the road. In addition, County Highway G is closed at the Totagatic River near the Washburn County Line. Several town roads in Summit and the town of Superior were still closed this morning, as well.

One person has been reported injured following the tornado touch down in Watkins, Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said just before 9 p.m. Monday.

He said several homes in Watkins are damaged, including a nursing home.


“We’re evacuating that and relocating the residents of the nursing home,” Cruze said.

He wasn’t able to confirm whether the injured person lived in the nursing home.

Watkins, a town of about 1,000 people 16 miles north of Litchfield and about 65 miles west of Minneapolis is currently experiencing a complete power outage, he said.

A tornado also touched down northwest of Litchfield around 5:30 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Probably a dozen homes in Litchfield are damaged,” Cruze said. “Several are severely damaged.”

Multiple homes and sheds appeared flattened by the storm.

On Northridge Drive in Litchfield Monday night, Kathy Cruze stood outside her home, surveying the damage at a home across the street. She is the wife of the sheriff.

“I feel blessed we have minor damage to our roof,” she said. “But I feel bad for what happened to them with their garage going down. We were lucky.”


Jerry Ackley of Geddes, South Dakota, shared that feeling. He was at the Litchfield home of his son-in-law during the storm.

“Our son-in-law went up and saw the tornado forming and told us to stay downstairs. Thankfully, it sounds like a lot of other people were staying in their basements too,” Ackley said. “It got real nasty there.”

No one in Litchfield has been reported injured, Cruze said, and around 9 p.m., the city was underway cleaning up the aftermath of the storm.

Earlier Monday and on Sunday, hail and wind blew out the windows of a nursing home in western North Dakota and storms damaged a school in northwest Minnesota as severe weather thundered across the region.

A baseball dugout was blown over at a school in Lake Park, Minn. The building then “knocked down fences, went several hundred yards and was deposited on the north end of our property,” said Lake Park Superintendent Dale Hogie, who said a section of aluminum bleachers on the softball field ended up roughly 500 feet away onto the football field when winds picked it up, rolled it over a dugout and over the backstop, damaging everything in its path.

“It was like a snowball effect, as things rolled through the property, it went and knocked over more fence…” said Hogie.

Goal posts are damaged, as is the scoreboard. The school building itself has some minor damage to it, including some broken, double-paned windows from flying debris.

The damage around Killdeer, N.D., about 35 miles north of Dickinson, was so bad that Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew said “the town looked like a war zone.”


Brew said many homes in Killdeer had significant damage, with siding ripped of several mobile homes..

“Any vehicle that was sitting outside was pretty much totaled,” Brew said. “Even the law enforcement vehicles. These people are trying to go out and help people, and they can’t even do that because their cars had so much damage.”

Cheryl Lantz, director of nursing Hill Top Home of Comfort, a nursing home in Killdeer, said many windows were blown out due to hail and wind damage, forcing residents to the middle of the building to keep everyone safe.

Eric Fleming was hoping to spend his birthday at the Medora Musical on Sunday night. Instead, he spent the evening boarding up windows and cleaning up glass after a thunderstorm that produced high winds and golf-ball-sized hail tore through Killdeer.

“It just kind of looks like a bomb went off,” Fleming said. “I’ve worked outside all my life, I’ve seen a lot of storms. But this one -- just seeing it on the radar I knew it was going to be really bad one.”

The hail came in at such high speeds that it pelted the ground, leaving divots that were up to 2 inches deep.  The storm, which produced winds as high as 75 mph and hail more than 3 inches in diameter, lasted nearly 20 minutes and caused extensive damage to west-facing windows and siding on homes.

Reports state that the hail in Killdeer was more than 3 inches in diameter.

Brew said one residence had approximately 5 inches of hail piled up against the door and that had to be shoved away.


“It looked like a snowstorm had hit,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service, winds hit 91 mph around 1:35 a.m. Monday morning about 2 miles west of Lake Park, while a peak wind gust near Rothsay, Minn., hit 94 mph around the same time.

Glander said widespread damage was reported around Becker County following storms that hit the area Saturday night, particularly when it came to trees.

He said one property owner near Big Cormorant Lake reported about 200 downed trees and he said homes in the area had leaves plastered against walls on all four sides, hinting that some unusual winds may have been involved.

In the Fargo area, heavy rains left some underpasses clogged with water until lift stations could catch up.

In West Fargo, heavy rain flooded the downtown Center Street underpass "for a couple hours. We've got to do some work on the lift stations," said Public Works Director Chris Brungardt.

Otherwise, "some branches blown down. Nothing major. We kind of missed the bullet," Brungardt said.

Flooding closes Wisconsin highways


Traffic alerts indicated sections of State Highway 13 and US Highway 2 in Ashland County, Highway 77 and US Highway 53 in Washburn County, US Highway 63 and State Highway 137 in Bayfield County, State Highway 27 in Sawyer County were closed for flooding this morning. For alternate routes and up to date Wisconsin traffic alerts, visit .


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