Multi-vortex Tornado with Winds Over 170 mph
On Sunday, the National Weather Service determined that an EF4 tornado with winds up to 170 mph hit Wadena, Minnesota last Thursday damaging more than 200 homes. So far there have been three confirmed EF4 tornadoes with peak wind speeds between 166-200 mph based on the damage they caused. The Wadena tornado left a trail of destruction a mile wide and 10 miles long. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado made its initial touchdown about three miles southwest of Wadena about 5 p.m. Thursday, then moved northeast before lifting up 20 minutes later about seven miles north of town. This was a “multi-vortex” storm with several funnel clouds pivoting around a common center. Based on the damage it caused, the weakest of the funnel clouds packed winds of more than 86 mph.
An EF4 tornado also hit the Almora-Bluffton area with winds up to 175 mph and left a damage path 1.3 miles wind and 36 miles long. In North Dakota, the tornado that hit Holmes had peak winds estimated at 185 mph that severely damaged a few structures. Thankfully it moved through mainly rural areas because the destruction would have definitely been greater in a more populated area.
Tornado damage near Armstrong, Minnesota. Image: AP
Governor Tim Pawlenty declared a state of emergency in Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Ottertail, Polk, Steele and Wadena counties. Unfortunately, 3 people lost their lives in the storms and dozens more were injured. The National Weather Service is still in the process of investigating other tornado reports in the area.