A severe thunderstorm accompanied with heavy rainfall, large hail, strong winds, and EF-1 tornado battered the Twin Cities Friday night, July 17 and Saturday morning, July 18, tearing down trees and cutting down power supplies.
Xcel Energy reported 225 000 customers were without power during the storm. Around 82 000 of its customers across Minnesota and Wisconsin have remained without electricity after the storm. Several hundred workers, from five states, were assisting repairs.
Minnesota Public Radio said this storm system was unusual on several fronts.
"Unlike Sunday’s bow echo that tore through the Brainerd lakes area, this one did not weaken as it approached the Twin Cities. In fact it strengthened and ultimately became tornadic about 30 minutes before it hit the west metro. They suspect a rare gravity wave like the event of June 16, 2014 may have enhanced this storm.
The storms also featured high winds well after the main bow echo passed. These rear jet inflow gusts did some additional damage as winds gusted to 96 km/h (60 mph) at Twin Cities Airport well after the initial storm front."
(A bow echo is a term describing the characteristic radar return from a mesoscale convective system that is shaped like an archer's bow. These systems can produce severe straight-line winds and occasionally tornadoes, causing major damage.)
The National Weather Service (NWS) reported a radar detected a tornado touchdown late Friday, about 6.4 km (4 miles) west southwest of Watertown.
Some infrastructural damage was reported, a few cars were turned upside down, uprooted trees, roads blocked with debris and power cuts were reported in Watertown, Waconia and Hollywood.
“[We found] a ton of stuff that had been blown all over. It was garbage day in some areas, so garbage was spread all over and a trampoline was in the road in Minnetrista,” said Eric Waage, Hennepin County's emergency management director.
No injuries were reported so far.
After surveying the amount of damage done the NWS Twin Cities confirmed the tornado of EF-1 force, estimating the wind speed reached 169 km/h (105 mph). Wind gusts reaching speeds of up to 112.65 km/h (70 mph) were reported in St. Paul, Golden Valley, New Brighton, Maple Grove, Richfield and Lakeville.
Featured image: Destruction on the Faulk family farm. Image credit: Jack Highberger.