Doppler Update: 7:02 pm. Confirmed reports of tornado touchdowns near Buffalo and Winsted. Strong/severe storms moving through the metro area between now and 9 pm - the most violent "supercell" thunderstorms will probably pass to the south of the metro - but another isolated tornado can't be ruled out for the Twin Cities region. Stay alert - be ready to move to a basement, under the stairs the safest place to ride out a tornado. No basement? Go to a small room, a closet or bathroom. People have survived F-5 tornadoes in their bathtubs. Avoid outer walls, windows, mobile homes, large rooms or auditoriums. You don't want to be in a car either - if you can't drive to safety get out and seek shelter in a ditch.
3 Supercells. Latest Doppler (7 pm) shows storm relative velocity - the circled regions show where the atmosphere is spinning like a crazy top - it's these supercell T-storms that are most likely to produce tornadoes in the coming hours. The most severe rotation is taking place near Albert Lea, which (hopefully) will not suffer a direct strike - but it's going to be a very close call. the most severe storms seem to be sliding off south of the Twin Cities metro.
Large, Violent Tornado near Albert Lea: Reports of a half-mile wide tornado near Kiester, in Faribault Co, near Albert Lea. Confirmation of a tornado on the ground, a very dangerous scenario for people in the Albert Lea area. I've circled the velocity "couplet" in blue, highlighting the area of most intense spin in the atmosphere.
Doppler Update: 6:35 pm. Strong/severe storms just west of the metro, heavy weather currently in the Mankato area will be drifting up over the metro area between now and 8 pm, a tiny percentage capable of large hail, damaging winds and even a stray tornado.
Annandale Wall Cloud. Photo taken by WeatherNation meteorologist Todd Nelson - this is the rotating "supercell" thunderstorm that may have dropped a brief tornado.
Tornado warnings north/west suburbs. Reports of a possible tornado touchdown near Winstead this afternoon. Again, MOST of us will not see anything severe, but a few communities may see 1-3" diameter hail, damaging (straight-line) winds, even an isolated tornado.
First Tornado of the Year. We have a confirmed tornado touchdown, 3 miles north of Leaf Valley, in Douglas County, around 3:45 pm. No reports of damage or injuries - yet. The storm was preceded by 2-3" diameter hail.
Tornado Warning: Gibbon, Winthrop and Fairfax under a tornado warning.
More Tornado Warnings: posted from Parker's Prairie and Wadena to Detroit Lakes area and Mahnomen, all popping along a vigorous warm frontal boundary.
New Tornado Watch until 9 pm, includes St. Cloud and Twin Cities. Strong storms forming over western MN - still turn severe in the coming hours, possibly reaching the metro area between 6-8 pm, give or take.
Significant Tornado Risk. Latest parameters from SPC show the greatest risk over far west central MN, near Wheaton and Breckenridge - I expect a line of severe storms to bubble up over far western MN by 2 or 3 pm at the latest.
Tornado Watch until 9 pm. The watch means "watch out", stay alert, stay tuned to local media for updates. The watch area includes Detroit Lakes, Bemidji and Thief River Falls, as well as the Fargo-Moorhead area. More from SPC here.
Moderate Threat of Tornadoes. SPC has most of central and southern MN in a moderate risk, although the greatest threat of tornadoes appears to be just south/west of the MN River. A tornado could touch down anywhere from Brainerd to the Iowa border later today - stay alert, go about your normal activities, but keep an eye on the sky, stay tuned to (local) media, and check back often for updates. My (pure) gut feel on which area might be most at risk: Tracy to Breckenridge to Windom. Before the day is through I fear that one or more communities in MN may experience a large, violent, long-lasting tornado. Hope I'm wrong, but the ingredients seem to be converging for a fairly significant tornado threat, especially far southwestern MN.
Tornado Risk. This SPC graphic shows the risk of a tornado within 25 miles of any given point - a 10% risk of an EF2-EF5 tornado for much of central, west central and southwestern MN. This is about as high as these parameters get - thus the very real fear of a significant tornado later today, best chance south/west of St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. Stay tuned...
Tornado Target. Andy Revering, who started up the revolutionary, cutting-edge site, tornadotarget.com, is predicting the greatest threat near Marshall, MN around 2 pm, shifting east to near Willmar by 5 pm.