The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least three tornadoes tore a damaging path across southern Minnesota last night.
Tornadoes near the communities of Faribault, Granada and Morristown were confirmed by the weather service, and at least three more tornadoes, in Elysian, Medford, and Northfield, were also reported by spotters and radar data but have yet to be officially confirmed. The Star Tribune reports that the Faribault airport was hit particularly hard, with hangars being flattened and planes flipped over. Trees and power lines were downed throughout the area. Heavy rains and wind occurred across the region.
“The damage is substantial and city crews are doing their best to open streets, remove debris and keep everyone safe,” city officials said.
Storms throughout the region also hit the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Streets were flooded throughout the metro area, with residents posting pictures on social media of people canoeing down city streets. Power outages are also reported throughout the region.
Western Wisconsin was also hit hard by the storms. The middle and high school in Spring Valley incurred significant damage, according to principal Gretchen Cipriano, and has been shut down for the moment.
“Because of the extent of the damage, classes at the middle-high school are canceled,” she wrote on the school district website. “The property is off limits to everyone other than employees and designated contractors.”
School was also cancelled in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, where several homes and businesses were damaged and streets were blocked by downed trees and power lines.
“We’re used to snow days but let’s hope we never have to use a tornado day again,” a posting on the Cannon Falls School District Facebook page said.
Landmarks across the region were also destroyed by the tornadoes. The 100-year-old Red Barn Farm, a popular wedding venue and family gathering place in Northfield, was completely flattened by a suspected tornado.
“Countless trees [are] down, including one that impaled our roof,” wrote Benjamin Percy, a Northfield writer, on his Facebook page. “No power. Two days of chainsawing ahead of us. Hope my fellow Northfielders are all right.”
The National Weather Service reported winds across the area gusting as high as 70 miles per hour. They also reported rainfall of up to four inches in a very short period of time, though they also say that full rain totals could take “several days” to verify. They are also sending survey teams to determine the exact location and the strength of the reported tornadoes.