This is an update to a story originally published on Dec. 16, 2021. Since then, more tornadoes have been confirmed.
HARTLAND, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota saw its first-ever confirmed tornadoes in December amid blustery thunderstorms Wednesday evening that left thousands without power.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Warm Start To The Week, Before Slide Into Bitter Cold
The National Weather Service Twin Cities confirmed three tornadoes and its LaCrosse office confirmed six for a total of nine recorded in Minnesota. The NWS calls it the “Historic Storm of December 15-16, 2021.”
The most powerful tornado of the night struck in the Hartland area. It was an EF-2, with winds up to 115 mph.
A Sumner tornado in northwest Fillmore County, with wind speeds up to 85 mph, was an EF-0, as were the Lewiston, Preston and Wyattville tornados.
The Racine tornado in northeast Mower County was an EF-1, with wind speeds up to 100 mph. Two Alden-area tornadoes also were EF-1s, with wind speeds up to 100-105 mph. The Plainview-area tornado was an EF-1 as well, with wind speeds up to 93 mph. That tornado damaged multiple trees and several farm buildings southeast to northeast of Plainview.
Lastly, an EF-1 tornado was confirmed in Carrolton in Fillmore County. More damage to farm buildings and trees was observed at that location.
The American Red Cross says no one was injured or displaced during the storm that tore through the community of Hartland Wednesday evening.
J.R. Henderson, who lives just steps away from Main Street in Hartland, says he was in his doorway when his neighbor’s garage lifted from the ground and landed in front of his home.
“The wind picked it up and threw it in my front window,” said Henderson, who’s lived in the home for nearly 25 years. “Needless to say, we’re lucky to be alive. It could have been worse.”
Henderson’s neighbor, Terry Blowers, says he heard the strong winds come through just prior to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“The siren went off and then I heard a roar, then a bang,” he said. “Then the lights were out.”
When the storm passed, Blowers says he was surprised to see his garage nearly a block away.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: The Snow Storm Is Gone, Now Temperatures Drop
“Right there where the truck was sitting …It’s all down there, a block away,” he said.
The National Weather Service had members surveying the damage Thursday.
“It’s certainly unlike any tornado experience I’ve had for surveying,” said Nick Charletta, a member of the National Weather Services’ Twin Cities office. “Every other one I’ve had; I’d be out here in a short sleeve shirt. I’m out here in a cap all bundled up. December tornados are incredibly uncommon for the upper Midwest.”
Charletta says while storms like Wednesday’s are an anomaly for the winter months, as the climate continues to change, so could weather patterns.
“You’re right to be concerned. The weather can be scary,” Charletta said. “It can be terrifying. The best thing you can do is be prepared.”
The community of Hartland spent Thursday clearing the debris from Henderson’s home, along with other nearby buildings.
“I’m glad they are,” he said. “It’s hard to believe, because I was looking to do all of this thing myself.”
“This community right here is really good about helping people out,” Blowers said. “Real friendly people here. Everybody knows about everybody.”
An EF2 tornado was also confirmed in Wisconsin, north of Neillsville.
NWS La Crosse storm survey teams have confirmed two tornadoes occurred Dec. 15th. An EF0 tornado occurred east/southeast of Lewiston, MN and an EF2 tornado north of Neillsville, WI. More complete damage survey results will be released later today.
— NWS La Crosse (@NWSLaCrosse) December 16, 2021
Video from Hartland shows some buildings badly damaged, with a lot of trees down.
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