Tornadoes hit central MN; downpours mean 'potentially catastrophic' floods


Another round of strong to severe storms is moved through the state Monday afternoon into the evening.

Here's the latest information.

6 a.m. – Roads washed out

Some roads in central Minnesota were closed or reduced to single lanes Tuesday due to the heavy rain Monday.

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary report from the July 11 storms, noting there were at least four tornadoes across central Minnesota. The hardest hit areas were the town of Watkins, northwest Litchfield, and some areas near St. Cloud.

However, only one minor injury was reported.

11:00 p.m. – Flash flood warnings until morning, some roads washed out

Flash flood warnings are in place until 6 a.m. in Crow Wing, Cass, Aitkin, Pine, and Carlton Counties. Other areas are under warnings until 11:30 or midnight. Find current watches and warnings here.

The Weather Service says some roads in Kanabec and Carlton Counties are already washed out.

Rivers continue their rapid rise. The Snake River near Warman is in Kanabec County.

10:15 p.m. – Watkins nursing home evacuated; whole town without power

Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze tells the West Central Tribune the nursing home damaged in this evening's tornado is being evacuated. Cruze says there's a complete power outage in the town of just under 1,000 residents.

The American Red Cross says in an email it is helping about 50 people in the wake of the evacuation. The Red Cross says its volunteers " with those affected, making sure they have a safe, place to stay, clothing, food, emotional support and help with long-term recovery planning."

Meanwhile, rivers are rising quickly in east central Minnesota, notably in Pine County.

9:50 p.m. – Flood danger an emergency in east central MN

The National Weather Service in Duluth says the flood risk is an emergency situation.

Authorities say overnight flooding could be disastrous and especially want to alert people who are at campgrounds or near rivers from the Brainerd Lakes area east into Wisconsin.

A huge surge in the Mississippi River's water level at Aitkin is expected overnight.

9:13 p.m. – Rainfall over 5 inches, 1 injury reported, tornado video posted

The latest rainfall totals posted by the National Weather Service show more than five inches have fallen at Breezy Point in north central Minnesota. The Weather Service says there was also a report of a funnel cloud near Monticello in Wright County but it had not touched down.

Meteorologist Paul Douglas reports some northern Minnesota towns are getting up to 10 inches of rainfall.

As for the tornadoes, there are reports that one person was injured in Watkins.

Storm chasers have posted video of the tornadoes in both Litchfield and Watkins.

8:20 p.m. – Homes destroyed in Litchfield, nursing home damaged in Watkins

Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze told the Associated Press two homes in Litchfield were destroyed by the tornado that touched down just after 5:30 and two mobile homes were damaged.

Cruze says the tornado then touched down in Watkins, where it damaged some homes and a nursing home. It also knocked out power in both cities, the sheriff said.

A staff member at Hilltop Health Care Center in Watkins confirmed to KARE 11 that the building was damaged, though the extent of the damage was not yet clear.

8:00 – Flash flood warnings through the evening

Flash flood warnings are in place for most of central Minnesota through 11 p.m. Find current warnings and watches here.

After getting three inches of rain, the St. Cloud area is in the heart of the flood zone.

The National Weather Service is reminding us to never try to drive across a flooded road.

6:49 p.m. – St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell under tornado warning

The most populated part of central Minnesota is under a tornado warning until 7:15 p.m.

Here's a look at the currents watches and warnings in the area:

6:30 p.m. – Another tornado confirmed

6:17 p.m. – Possible second tornado, serious storm damage

The National Weather Service says a tornado was spotted on the ground near Watkins – that's about 16 miles northeast of Litchfield, where a confirmed tornado was sighted earlier.

Here are some photos of the damage near Litchfield:

The National Weather Service adds storm reports – including hail, flooding, tornadoes and funnel clouds – to this public page.

5:50 p.m.

A confirmed tornado touched down in the Litchfield area and has continued to push to the northeast. A tornado warning remains in effect for portions of Meeker and Stearns County.

There has been some damage in the Litchfield area, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm has continued to push to the northeast. This image was taken near Watkins.

The weather service has also issued two separate watches for parts of central and southern Minnesota. In central Minnesota a tornado watch is in effect until 10 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect until 10 p.m. for parts of central, southern and southwest Minnesota.

Forecasters say large hail, damaging winds and heavy rainfall that could cause localized flooding are all major threats from these storms.

5 percent chance for a tornado

The heat and humidity that's been building in southern Minnesota during the day will help the storms develop later, the National Weather Service says.

The Storm Prediction Center says the area is under an "enhanced risk" for severe weather, and there's a 5 percent chance for a tornado to be within 25 miles of the region that's shaded brown on the map below.

Earlier in the day, storms with wind gusts that reached 80-90 mph hit northwestern Minnesota, the Star Tribune says. Heavy rain was also reported in central Minnesota, with the paper noting 4.3 inches of rain was reported in Elrosa.

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