The National Weather Service has confirmed numerous tornadoes from the Memorial Day severe weather outbreak in Minnesota, including a long-track twister that carved a path through at least four counties – and it's possible that it was the same twister that caused severe damage in the small town of Forada.
No town was hit harder than Forada. The small community of 160 residents, nestled on the northeast shore of Maple Lake and about five miles south of Alexandria, was pounded by maximum swirling winds of 120 mph, making it an EF2 tornado.
According to the NWS, there was evidence of the tornado being a half-mile wide with multiple vortices. The Storm Prediction Center defines multiple-vortex tornadoes as a tornado containing smaller, rapidly spinning subvortices that can add over 100 mph to the ground-relative wind in a tornado circulation.
"As a result, they are responsible for most (if not all) cases where narrow arcs of extreme destruction lie right next to weak damage within tornado paths," the SPC explains.
What remains unclear is if the Forada tornado was the same twister that started well over 50 miles and about an hour earlier in west-central Minnesota. That long-track tornado is believed to have touched down about 4 miles west of Milan before tracking northeast for 50 miles to the northwest of Glenwood.
"There was a small gap between this tornado and the Forado tornado and more investigation is needed to see if it was a single track," the NWS says.
The path of the long-track tornado contained "near continuous tree damage," battered farm outbuildings and power lines, and irrigation systems overturned.
The tornado struck a farm three miles north of Milan just after 3:30 p.m. At 4:10 p.m. a spotter reported it being wrapped in rain three miles west of Starbuck. Forada was struck about 25 minutes later.
So far, the National Weather Service has confirmed four tornadoes.
- EF2 tornado with 120 mph winds hit Forada
- EF1 tornado with 95 mph winds hit Eagle Bend
- EF1 tornado with 100 mph winds from near Milan to near Glenwood
- EF1 tornado with 90 mph winds near Plato
The NWS offices in Grand Forks and Sioux Falls have yet to confirm any additional tornadoes, though damage surveyors are believed to be ongoing.