MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It took place over a span of six hours on June 17, 2010. That’s when 48 tornadoes swept through 22 Minnesota counties, stretching from Argyle in the northwest to Albert Lea near the Iowa border.
“Everybody was activated that day. Whether you were a spotter or chaser you were probably out watching the sky that day,” said Kenny Blumenfeld.
As Minnesota’s senior state climatologist, Blumenfeld remembers it well. He was out spotting that day in Wright county and watched as one of the tornadoes danced around Buffalo.
But most notably he remembers the terrible devastation an EF-4 tornado caused in the city of Wadena.
“There was a moment where people in the community of Wadena wondered if there was enough resources and patience to rebuild,” he said.
The city of 4,000 residents was ground zero for historic single day tornado outbreak. That’s where one of four EF-4 strength tornadoes raked across the city’s neighborhoods, businesses and local high school.
The community center and ice arena were also destroyed.
” My first thought was are we going to get out of here?” said former school bookkeeper Joyce Boyne.
Boyne was helping prepare for the weekend’s all class reunion and was among those inside the building when the tornado struck, shortly after 5 p.m. on June 17. When she saw debris filling the sky outside her office window, she and a school custodian sought shelter in a science room.
“As he pulled the door shut to the classroom, the whole south side of the building was taken by the tornado. So we barely got in there in time” she said.
Though tornadoes elsewhere in the state claimed three lives, Wadena was spared a human toll beyond the 34 people with mostly minor injuries.
“We did fare well. That’s about as good of outcome as you can hope for when you have that kind of destruction,” said Blumenfeld.
It was a day of weather violence like none other, both before or since. And for those who witnessed its wrath, they hope never to see again.