Tornadoes damage homes, knock out power in central Minnesota

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

LITCHFIELD — Tornadoes struck towns in central Minnesota on Monday, damaging homes and knocking out power, while thunderstorms dropped heavy rain across a wide swath of the state and into Wisconsin.

A tornado struck the northwest side of Litchfield late Monday afternoon, Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said. The storm damaged a couple of trailer homes and two other homes will be a total loss, he said.

Cruze said the tornado skipped over town, and then hit the town of Watkins, where it damaged homes and a nursing home. Power was out Monday evening in northwest Litchfield and Watkins.

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Authorities received one report of minor injuries in Watkins.

The National Weather Service said law enforcement also reported a tornado touchdown around 6:30 p.m. Monday three miles east of Rockville, in Stearns County.

Flooding remained a threat late Monday in east-central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service office in Duluth issued a flash flood warning for a swath of east-central Minnesota into early Tuesday morning.

The Weather Service said as much as 10 inches had already fallen in part of the warned area and said local law enforcement and emergency management officials reported several road wash-outs.

Crow Wing County law enforcement officials advised against traveling in the county until at least daybreak, the weather service said.

Conditions were expected to worsen overnight. Impacted areas were to include Brainerd and Mille Lacs Lake.

“This could get into a very dangerous and life-threatening situation,” Dan Miller, science and operations officer at NWS in Duluth, told the Brainerd Dispatch. “Flash floods at night are exceptionally dangerous because visibility is not very good.”

Much of northwestern Wisconsin was under a flash flood warning until 6:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials were reporting state, county and local roads under water with numerous road wash-outs, the weather service said.