Severe storms, including two confirmed tornadoes and massive amounts of rain swept across north-central Minnesota Monday afternoon, toppling trees and tombstones in Litchfield and causing 50 residents of an assisted living center in Watkins to flee to other facilities.
Shortly after 10:30 p.m., the National Weather Service in Duluth issued a “flash flood emergency” for southern Aitkin County and Pine County.
“Abandon campgrounds and camp sites near creeks and rivers,” it warned.
It also urged motorists not to travel on Interstate 35 between Pine City and Moose Lake and Hwy. 23 between Sandstone and Holyoke due to flooding.
Authorities in Litchfield and Watkins said 15 to 20 homes were damaged by two midafternoon tornadoes. Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said it was the worst he’d seen in 20 years.
The Red Cross said Monday night they were helping about 50 residents of a nursing home/assisted living complex in Watkins with safe, secure housing and clothing. Kramer Electric Co. in Watkins lost its roof.
Authorities reported no serious injuries in either town.
The danger of flash flooding continued in several east-central and northeastern counties in Minnesota and eastward into northwestern Wisconsin, with a warning in effect until 6 or 6:30 a.m., the Weather Service said. Rain totals were huge: 11 inches in Sturgeon Lake, Minn.; 7.3 inches in Little Falls; 6.4 inches in Aitkin; 4 inches in Hubbard and 3.36 inches in Milaca.
The Twin Cities area mostly dodged the storms and heavy rains. Tuesday and Wednesday are still expected to be hot and humid, with highs in the upper 80s and lows in the 70s. But a cooling trend Thursday, Friday and Saturday will bring highs in the mid-70s and lows in the 60s.