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NWS Confirms Long-Tracked Tornado Passed Through Minnesota

The National Weather Service has confirmed multiple tornadoes from the Memorial Day severe weather outbreak in Minnesota, including a long-track tornado that ripped its way through at least four counties — and it’s possible this the same tornado that caused severe damage in the small town of Forada.

No town has been hit harder than Forada. The small community of 160, nestled on the northeast shore of Maple Lake and about five miles south of Alexandria, was battered by swirling winds peaking at 120 mph, making it an EF2 tornado.

A view of the destruction at Forada.

According to the NWS, there was evidence the tornado was half a mile wide with multiple whirlpools. The Storm Prediction Center defines multiple vortex tornadoes like a tornado containing smaller, rapidly rotating sub-vortices that can add more than 100 mph to the relative ground wind in a tornado circulation.

“As a result, they are responsible for most (if not all) instances where narrow arcs of extreme destruction are found right next to low damage in tornado paths,” the SPC explains.

What remains uncertain is whether the Forada tornado was the same tornado that started well over 50 miles and about an hour earlier in west-central Minnesota. This long-tracked tornado is believed to have touched down about 4 miles west of Milan before tracking northeast about 50 miles northwest of Glenwood.

“There was a small gap between this tornado and the Forado tornado and further investigation is needed to see if this was a single track,” the NWS said.

The long-tracked tornado’s path contained “near-continuous tree damage”, downed farm outbuildings and power lines, and overturned irrigation systems.

The tornado hit a farm three miles north of Milan just after 3:30 p.m. At 4:10 p.m. an observer reported she was shrouded in rain three miles west of Starbuck. Forada was struck about 25 minutes later.

So far, the National Weather Service has confirmed four tornadoes.

  • EF2 tornado with 120 mph winds hit Forada
  • EF1 tornado with 95 mph winds hit Eagle Bend
  • EF1 tornado with 100 mph winds from near Milan to near Glenwood
  • EF1 tornado with 90 mph winds near Plato

NWS offices in Grand Forks and Sioux Falls have yet to confirm any additional tornadoes, although damage inspectors are underway.