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SATURDAY UPDATE

Two more tornadoes are confirmed to have touched down in southeast Minnesota Wednesday night, bringing the total to seven.

According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes were recorded in Preston and Carrollton Township.

Previously, tornadoes had also been reported in Hartland, near Plainview and the Lewiston area. Two were reported near Alden.

The historic storm also brought tornadoes to western Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa.

In Preston, wind speeds peaked at around 80 miles per hour and the tornado was classified as EF0. Winds reached up to 105 miles per hour in Preston, where the tornado was classified as EF1.

Both tornadoes resulted in damage to trees, cars, farm buildings and sheds.

Some of the most significant damage during the storm came in Hartland, where an EF2 tornado damaged buildings downtown with up to 115 mile per hour winds. 

Original story (reporting the first five confirmed Minnesota tornadoes)

The National Weather Service conducted damage surveys on Thursday and confirmed that five tornadoes touched down Wednesday night in southeastern Minnesota, including a strong EF2 twister that ripped through downtown Hartland. 

The Minnesota tornadoes struck in Hartland, two near Alden, one near Plainview and one in the Lewiston area. The historic Dec. 15 severe weather outbreak also resulted in two strong tornadoes in western Wisconsin and five more tornadoes in northeastern Iowa. 

Damage in Hartland was significant in the small town’s downtown area. The post office has been closed due to damage, and Arcadian Bank was destroyed by the twister, which produced maximum wind speeds of 115 mph.

According to the damage survey, the EF2 tornado touched down approximately 1 mile southwest of Hartland before moving through the town, lifting two miles northeast of Hartland. The twister carved a path 2.17 miles long in just three minutes, from 7:10 p.m. to 7:13 p.m. 

Tree and roof damage was reported on the southern end of Hartland, while the most significant damage was two buildings, the bank included, in the center of town. 

While the Hartland tornado was originally believed to be the first confirmed December tornado in Minnesota history, it actually goes down as No. 3 because two EF1 tornadoes touched down about 15 miles to the southwest, near Alden. 

The first Alden area tornado touched down southwest of town and produced 105 mph winds, resulting in a twisted road sign and tree and utility pole damage. The second Alden area tornado touched down about a mile east-northeast of Alden, producing 100 mph winds and damaging trees and a farm outbuilding. 

The tornado near Plainview struck just east of town, producing 93 mph winds, according to the NWS. 

The tornado located east/southeast of Lewiston was rated an EF0 by the NWS La Crosse, which surveyed damage over a length of 0.6 miles. The report says the twister produced 85 mph winds and was only 40 yards wide, resulting in damage to trees, a garage and several outbuildings along and near County Road 23 between Lewiston and Wyattville in Winona County.

Two even stronger EF2 tornadoes touched down west of Neillsville and another just north of Neillsville, in western Wisconsin. The first dropped and produced 125 mph winds over a 4-mile path where it destroyed a home and chewed up wooded areas.

Less than 10 minutes later the second EF2 twister spun up and was again intense, producing 120 mph winds for a duration of only 0.8 miles. It was only 50 yards wide but it struck a farm, ripping off large sections of a home’s roof, moving the barn off its foundation and tossing a truck nearly 100 feet.

The tornado that spun through the Rudd, Iowa area was on the ground for an estimated 8.2 miles and produced 110 mph winds (EF1 rating), causing damage to numerous farms and a few homes in Floyd County. Power lines were snapped and trees were blown over by what the NWS described as a “fast moving tornado.” 

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