Archived Story

Editorial: Remembering the June 17 tornadoes

Published 9:56am Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday marked the third year since tornadoes tore through southern Minnesota, striking rural areas of Faribault, Freeborn, Waseca and Steele counties.

Today marks the third year since the edition of the Tribune that described the horrific damage caused by an EF4 twister and other tornadoes that day. The stories and photos showed people lost their homes, their farms, their livestock. Trees were uprooted. Homes and barns were smashed. Power lines were tangled and down. Surviving domesticated animals roamed free. And one woman, Tribune employee Katherine Woodside, perished when a tornado struck her home a mile west of Armstrong.

We miss her.

The landscape remains scarred where the tornadoes struck, especially along the path that the EF4 traversed west of Albert Lea and where two EF3 traveled, one near Ellendale and one near Hollandale. It was eerie and surreal being in the wake of such damage. Some people rebuilt. Some people moved. Some people just got really lucky and repaired damage.

The day even has its own Wikipedia page. For offline types, it might be interesting to read in print. Its called “June 2010 Northern Plains tornado outbreak.”

Here is the description, which cites NOAA for its source on facts: “The June 2010 Northern Plains tornado outbreak was one of the most prolific summer tornado outbreaks in the Northern Great Plains of the United States on record. The outbreak began on June 16 with several tornadoes in South Dakota and Montana. The most intense storms took place the following day across much of eastern North Dakota and much of Minnesota and North Dakota. The system produced 93 tornadoes reported across four states while killing three people in Minnesota. Four of the tornadoes were rated as EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, the most violent tornadoes in a 24-hour period since there were five within 15 hours on February 5–6, 2008. This was the region’s first major tornado outbreak of the year and one of the largest on record in the region, comparable to a similar outbreak in June 1992. The 48 tornadoes that touched down in Minnesota on June 17 marked the most active single day in the state’s history. June 17 was the second largest tornado day on record in the meteorological summer (i.e., June, July, August), behind the most prolific day of the 2003 South Dakota tornado outbreak on June 24, 2003.”

It later describes the EF4 that hit Freeborn County: “One death. Dozens of farms were affected and several houses were destroyed or leveled by this large wedge tornado. Some farmsteads were entirely destroyed by the tornado. Three hog confinements were destroyed with several hogs escaping. A wind energy facility was also damaged and vehicles were tossed. There were also additional major infrastructure damage along with gas leaks. Trees were also debarked and many farm structures were destroyed across the county. Fourteen others were injured, some severely.”

June 17 is a day that brings strong memories for many residents of the Albert Lea area.