Stormy weekend begins with brief tornado in western Wisconsin


As tornadoes go, the one that touched down near Colfax, Wisconsin, Friday afternoon was weak and short-lived.

A tornado it was, though.

And forecasters consider it a harbinger of the increasingly stormy weather heading into the region this weekend.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reports the tornado downed a number of trees and damaged a gas station. The newspaper says Xcel Energy reported about 400 customers lost power in the area.

A viewer of WQOW-TV sent the Eau Claire station video of the tornado.

The Leader Telegram says the National Weather Service was unaware of the tornado until alerted by the Dunn County Sheriff's office.

A Weather Service meteorologist tells the Chippewa Herald the fast-moving storm had some weak rotation that tightened briefly to produce the short-lasting tornado. "Everything kind of needed to come together and it came together in that one little spot," Mike Griesinger told the newspaper.

The forecast for the region shows scattered storms Friday night, more widespread rain on Saturday, and severe storms possible on Sunday.

Altogether, the Twin Cities may see an inch-and-a-half of rain by Monday, the Weather Service says.

The new rain could bring a revival of the flooding and mudslides that have plagued Minnesota this past week. The Weather Service also cautions that by late Sunday the storms could carry large hail and will be capable of spawning tornadoes, especially in southern Minnesota.

Meteorologist Paul Douglas writes in his Star Tribune blog that the first 26 days of June brought 86 percent of the rainfall the Twin Cities typically see in an entire summer. Douglas says it would take less than an inch of additional rain for this month to surpass 1874 as the wettest June on record in the metro area.

At MPR News Paul Huttner considers the outlook for the weekend pretty normal for summer in Minnesota – bringing some sunshine, steamy dew points, occasional storms, and a chance of severe weather.

Floodwaters have crested across much of the state and are expected to do so in the southeast soon. But the additional rain seems likely to prolong flooding through the Fourth of July holiday. President Obama said during his Twin Cities visit this week that the federal government is prepared to help Minnesota cover the cost of repairs to roads and infrastructure once damage estimates are made.

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