WILLMAR, Minn. – A tornado touched down near Willmar on Friday, destroying homes and damaging a turkey farm, a mobile home dealership, and a farm equipment dealer, said Kandiyohi County Emergency Management Director Don Ericson.
Two people were reported injured, Ericson said. He did not have details but said both injuries were minor. The tornado touched down at Arnold's of Willmar, a farm equipment dealer along Highway 71, at about 6:30 p.m. and caused damage there, the West Central Tribune said. Ericson added that the twister stayed on the ground for nine miles — destroying three houses and damaging another eight homes, three turkey barns and a mobile home dealership.
"I know that there are turkeys that were impacted," he said. "But the numbers, I don't know."
He also said some trailer homes had been tossed from the dealership, and their whereabouts were still unknown Friday night.
Power companies were busy Friday restoring power to residents, and officials were securing the area, Ericson said. Damage assessment was expected to begin in full force on Saturday.
Elsewhere, hail, heavy rains and strong winds downed trees and cut power to some areas. The storms suspended music at the Basilica Block Party in downtown Minneapolis, sending concertgoers scurrying under a highway overpass for shelter. The music resumed later in the night.
Ivan and Della Underland, of Willmar, were about to hide under their pool table in the basement when they realized the tornado was passing them.
"We watched the funnel cloud go to the east of us," Della Underland told the West Central Tribune. "We were pretty shook up for a while, but I guess we are OK."
They said their son's residence in rural Willmar was damaged — an empty grain bin was blown down, many trees were down or uprooted and there was serious damage to surrounding crops.
Trained spotters also saw tornadoes three miles southeast of Spicer and two miles south of Kandiyohi. There were a handful of funnel clouds spotted as the storm swept through central Minnesota.
The St. Cloud Times lost power to its newsroom for about an hour on Friday. The newspaper said there were trees down in Little Falls and some street flooding as storm sewers backed up. The National Weather Service reported winds at 84 mph in Waite Park.
The storms happened as a cold front pushed east against hot, humid air across Minnesota. The storms weakened as they moved eastward through the Twin Cities — Xcel Energy reported over 24,000 people were without power in the metro area as of 9:45 p.m. Friday.