One person was killed and at least one other was injured Wednesday evening when two powerful tornadoes touched down in west-central Minnesota’s Otter Tail County.
Several homes and farmsteads in a rural area were destroyed or severely damaged by the back-to-back twisters, which came on the heels of a day of blazing heat and thick humidity. Cars were destroyed and trees snapped.
Two people were taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries, with one fatality reported, said Shannon Terry, spokeswoman for Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons. She did not have information on whether the person who died was one of those taken to a hospital.
Terry said the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D., told the Sheriff’s Office late Wednesday that two tornadoes touched down in the area between 5:10 and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. It was not yet sorted out which one did the greatest damage, but one destroyed or severely damaged three farmsteads and left a 6- to 9-mile trail of damage as it roared northeast between Dalton and Ashby.
Early indications are that the strongest of the two tornadoes fell into the EF-3 category, with winds of 136 to 165 mph, the National Weather Service said. They were two of several twisters reported across central and northern Minnesota, including in Todd, Wadena and Crow Wing counties.
Ashby Mayor Tom Grover, who was working with volunteer rescue personnel in the tornado’s aftermath, said at least three rural homes or farmsteads between his town and Dalton, to the northwest, were “pretty much gone.”
“I saw it come down and right away you could see the debris rising up,” Grover said.
The storms came on the heels of high heat and humidity statewide. An excessive heat warning covered the metro area for much of the day as the combination of heat and humidity made it feel like it was over 100 degrees.
“This might be the worst day overall,” said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist with the NWS in Chanhassen.
Wednesday’s sultry weather continued a stretch that has produced temperatures of 90 degrees or higher eight times this summer.
In the Twin Cities, the weekend likely will be slightly cooler, with forecast highs in the mid- to upper 80s before more above-normal temperatures return.
Staff writer Tim Harlow and the Associated Press contributed to this report.