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Mother Nature threatens to rain on local parades

Tornado confirmed near Maple Island

Mother Nature has been busy in the Albert Lea area, and could be coming back for more.

Sunday and Monday afternoons both saw tornado warnings in the area after severe thunderstorms and visible radar rotations were present in parts of Freeborn County and the surrounding area, according to the National Weather Service. Tornado sirens were sounded twice both days as the warnings were extended beyond initial broadcasts.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, a funnel cloud was reportedly spotted east of Ellendale. Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag said the Weather Service confirmed a tornado briefly touched down near Maple Island and was witnessed by a trained spotter. No significant damage had been reported as of press time.

Another heavy round of rain forecast for Monday afternoon and evening prompted a flash flood watch in effect through late Monday night for portions of southern Minnesota, including Freeborn, Steele, Waseca, Fairbault and Blue Earth counties. One to 3 inches of rain was expected in some areas, with isolated amounts near 5 inches possible. Flash flooding was possible along area streams, as well as in urban and low-lying areas. The Weather Service said the added rainfall would likely lead to additional rises on area rivers, particularly the Minnesota River and its tributaries.

Periods of thunderstorms are expected through the rest of this week. The potential for severe weather from Tuesday on was low as of press time, but heavy rainfall will be a continued threat, according to the Weather Service.

As of press time, the Weather Service had a forecast of 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon; Albert Lea’s Third of July Parade is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Wednesday. There was a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms forecast for during the day on the Fourth of July, decreasing to a 20% chance Thursday evening. Friday’s forecast showed a 40% of showers and storms both during the day and at night.

Look to the Tribune as the forecast develops and as more information becomes available.