A powerful storm system spawned rare October tornadoes in Minnesota over the weekend, and even more unusual is that the tornadoes touched down in northern parts of the state.
On Saturday, the town of Park Rapids was hit by a tornado at 10:35 p.m., followed by a confirmed tornado touchdown north of Chisholm on Sunday that produced a warning in the areas of Buhl, Mountain Iron, Hibbing and Virginia.
A damage survey by the National Weather Service found the EF-1 tornado in Park Rapids produced 100 mph winds and was on the ground for only a minute. But that's all it took for the twister to tear up the roofs of Faithbridge Church and Park Rapids Ford, which are located near each other adjacent to Highway 71 on the city's south side.
More on the damage the Park Rapids tornado caused here from the NWS:
"THE TORNADO UPROOTED SEVERAL MATURE SPRUCE TREES IN A CONVERGENT PATTERN, IT TORE OUT HWY 71 ROAD SIGN AND DEPOSITED IT IN A HEDGE SOME 50 YARDS TO THE SOUTHWEST. IT TORE OFF SEVERAL LARGE METAL ROOF PANELS OFF OF THE CHURCH, AND THE DEBRIS LOADING AND WIND IMPACTS SNAPPED ONE WOODEN POWER POLE. ADDITIONAL ROOFING PANEL AND SIDING WERE TORN FROM THE AUTOMOBILE DEALERSHIP STRUCTURE."
Details regarding the strength, damage caused and duration of the Chisholm-area tornado haven't been provided yet. For context, however, here's the EF (Enhanced Fujita) scale that represents the strength of a tornado.
- EF0 - Weak - 65-85 mph winds
- EF1 - Weak - 86-110 mph
- EF2 - Strong - 111-135 mph
- EF3 - Strong - 136-165 mph
- EF4 - Violent - 166-200 mph
- EF5 - Violent - 200+ mph
Prior to the weekend twisters, Minnesota had only had 28 confirmed October tornadoes between 1950 and 2020, according to the state's climate office. The latest tornado in Minnesota history was Nov. 16, 1931, just east of Maple Plain.
Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard said it was "extraordinarily rare" to have severe weather in Cook County at this point in October. Statewide, Minnesota has averaged about one tornado in October every year since 1989. But if you go back to 1950, the average dips to 0.39 tornadoes per October.
Hello, warmer planet.