Confirmed Tornadoes In Zimmerman, Clarks Grove Leave Wake Of Damage

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — People in central Minnesota will be cleaning up after powerful storms blew through the area Monday afternoon and evening.

The National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday that storm damage in the Zimmerman area was caused by a tornado. It’s the earliest tornado on record in Minnesota.

Survey crews are out in the affected area. National Weather Service officials say it was an EF-1 tornado with winds at their peak at about 107 miles per hour. It was about 300 yards wide, and had a path of nearly nine miles.

One of the hardest-hit areas was Lake Ann, where trees and power lines were knocked down and properties suffered extensive damage. There were no injuries or deaths associated with the tornado.

The Bisbees — who live north of Lake Ann — had more than 30 trees destroyed in the tornado.

“You didn’t think anything like this would happen, it just happened so fast,” Corey Bisbee said.

National Weather Service officials also said storm damage in Clarks Grove, which is near Albert Lea, was also caused by a tornado. It’s an area that saw a foot of snow just a few weeks ago.

Several businesses and homes in the Clarks Grove area were damaged in the storm, though no buildings were completely destroyed. The local power company said more than 100 people were still without power Tuesday evening.

Thankfully, local law enforcement reports no one was hurt or killed in either tornado.

Tornado Damage in Clarks Grove

Sherburne County was among the areas hardest hit by Monday night’s storm, leaving multiple homes and cars damaged. Large trees snapped and entire streets remain clogged with debris as firefighters work to clean up.

Less than 24 hours after Mother Nature came roaring through Sherburne County, she returned for round two. There wasn’t a tornado, but there was a relentlessly bitter breeze.

“Miserable,” described homeowner Melbye Jess. “It was just a series of really unfortunate events, one after another. Made it a lot harder to clean up and get back to normal.”

Her roof needed patching. The wind made it difficult to cover with a tarp. Her yard was also filled with tree limbs that took hours to clean up. But Jess knows that’s nothing compared to some neighbors.

“Their garage is completely sucked out of their homes. Their roofs are completely gone,” she said.

The skies weren’t friendly for Jeff Anderson, which can now been seen clearly from inside his roofless garage.

“Pretty much think I got the worst of it,” Anderson said.

His garage used to be filled with tools for his racing hobby.

“Took me nine years to put it together and a day to tear it apart,” he said.

His yard was filled with debris from his home and others. Luckily, neighbors were also there cleaning up without even being asked.

“I don’t know these people, but if that tornado had hit my house, I would want them to come over here and help me clean up,” said neighbor Joshua Harrell.

Johnathan Havisto brought out his utility vehicle for hauling trash.

“I was fortunate,” Havisto said. “Just those people that are less fortunate need the help, why not help.”

It’s that type of attitude and the fact that nobody was hurt that has Anderson grateful despite the damage.

“It’s great, man,” Anderson said. “It brings a tear to the eye you know, all the help. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The cleanup effort is not over yet for Katherine Curtis near Big Lake, where the storm left several boats scattered in her yard, none of which belong to her family. Curtis and her husband had to run for cover after spotting a boat fly by their window.

“He yelled at me run, because he saw a boat come flying by,” Curtis said. “So we ran into the center of the basement area and — crash, bang, all kinds of noises. And I actually felt the air kind of pull me. And he was farther in our little cellar than I was and I’m like, ‘Hang on.'”

Blown away in a matter of seconds, the side of one Orrock Township home looked like a dollhouse Tuesday morning after a fierce storm hit Monday night, leaving its owner nearly speechless.

“When you talk about hearing a freight train, we didn’t hear anything. We had just pulled in the driveway. It looked fine straight when we looked out behind the house,” the owner, who did not want to be identified, said. “Next thing you know, we had a window blown out.”

Chris Weber lost many trees in her yard and a few boat docks on Monday night. She braved the morning chill to survey her neighborhood and check on her friends near Lake Ann.

“It literally went by in about 20 seconds,” Weber said. “It was just that quick. I didn’t think it was that bad until I came upstairs and started looking outside.”

Looking at the degree of destruction after a potential tornado in March, Weber tells WCCO-TV she feels fortunate that only material things were lost in the storm.

The power was out across the area for much of the night as crews worked to secure several power lines on County Road 4, just west of Zimmerman.

Hail was also seen in parts of the state, some of it measuring upward of 1.5 inches in diameter.

In Maple Grove, wind damage prompted the closure of the Maple Grove Sports Dome until further notice.

Tuesday’s winds slowed down homeowners, volunteers and utility workers. Officials at Connexus Energy said the wind caused more power outages as crews worked to repair downed power lines from Monday.

The company stated it hopes to get customers restored by mid-day Wednesday.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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