It’s Official: 1st Tornado of 2012 struck Monday; 2nd earliest on record

NWS has confirmed that Monday night’s damage in Elysian was produced by a tornado.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 600 PM CDT TUE MAR 20 2012

NORTHERN WASECA AND SOUTHERN LE SUEUR COUNTY TORNADO AND DOWNBURST DAMAGE FROM MONDAY EVENING…

A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STORM DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM ASSESSED DAMAGE THAT OCCURRED ON THE EVENING OF MONDAY…MARCH 19…2012 FROM NORTHERN WASECA INTO SOUTHERN LE SUEUR COUNTIES. EVENT…COMBINATION OF TORNADO AND DOWNBURST WINDS OF EF-0 STRENGTH. LOCATION…THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN JUST SOUTH OF ELYSIAN LAKE ROAD…JUST SOUTH OF 412TH AVENUE IN NORTHERN WASECA COUNTY. THE

TORNADO PROGRESSED NORTH FOR APPROXIMATELY 2 MILES WHILE PARALLELING THE EASTERN SHORE OF ELYSIAN LAKE AND ELYSIAN LAKE ROAD…BEFORE CROSSING ELYSIAN LAKE NEAR 427TH AVE. FROM HERE…THE TORNADO PASSED ACROSS THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE TOWN OF ELYSIAN…BEFORE GOING ACROSS THE EASTERN TIP OF LAKE FRANCIS. FROM THE SHOREVIEW AREA NORTH OF THE TOWN OF ELYSIAN…THE TORNADO CONTINUED NORTH FOR APPROXIMATELY 4 MORE MILES…PARALLELING COUNTY ROAD 11. THE LAST BIT OF DAMAGE NOTED ALONG THE PATH WAS AROUND ST. PETER’S CHURCH ALONG COUNTY ROAD 12.

PATH LENGTH…APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILES.

MAXIMUM WIND SPEED…80 TO 85 MPH.

MAXIMUM WIDTH…100 YARDS FOR THE TORNADO…WITH DOWNBURST SEGMENTS UP TO A MILE IN WIDTH.

DAMAGE…DAMAGE PRIMARILY NOTED WITH THIS EVENT WAS TO EVERGREEN TREES. MOST DAMAGE TO STRUCTURES WAS CONFINED TO SHINGLES AND SOFFITS ON ROOFS. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT STRUCTURAL DAMAGE OCCURRED AT A FARMSTEAD AND SHED ALONG ELYSIAN LAKE ROAD IN NORTHERN WASECA COUNTY. AT THE FARMSTEAD…SEVERAL TREES WERE UPROOTED/SNAPPED ON THE PROPERTY…WITH A METAL EQUIPMENT SHELTER HAVING A SECTION OF THE BUILDING BLOWN IN. ABOUT A QUARTER MILE NORTH OF THIS HOUSE ALONG ELYSIAN LAKE ROAD…THE SOUTHERN WALL OF A STORAGE SHED WAS BLOWN IN…CAUSING THE SHED TO COLLAPSE. IN THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE TOWN OF ELYSIAN…TWO SMALL EMPTY GRAIN BINS WERE BLOWN INTO AN ADJOINING FIELD…WITH A SMALL METAL SHED AT A NEARBY HOUSE BLOWN ACROSS HIGHWAY 60. THIS STRUCTURAL DAMAGE…ALONG WITH TREE DAMAGE NOTED IS CONSISTENT WITH WIND SPEEDS AROUND 80 MPH…WHICH IS AT THE HIGH END OF EF-0 /EF-1 BEGINS AT 86 MPH/.

NORTH OF LAKE FRANCIS…THE DAMAGE PATTERN BECAME MUCH MORE COMPLEX…AS THE TORNADO BEGAN TO INTERACT WITH STRONG DOWNBURST WINDS. THIS CAUSED THE DAMAGE FOOT PRINT AT TIMES TO GROW TO AS MUCH AS A MILE WIDE. MOST OF THE DAMAGE FROM LAKE FRANCIS TO ST. PETER’S CHURCH WAS TREE DAMAGE…THOUGH NUMEROUS BOAT DOCKS AND LIFTS ALONG THE NORTHERN SHORE OF THE LAKE WERE PICKED UP AND MOVED/TOSSED IN THE WINDS. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD DIRECTLY NORTH OF THE LAKE OFF OF WILLOW POINT DRIVE…MOST HOMES SUSTAINED SOME DEGREE OF ROOF DAMAGE…WITH A LARGE NEIGHBORHOOD PLAY SET BLOWN OVER AND SPREAD ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD. MUCH OF THIS DAMAGE WAS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DOWNBURST. BETWEEN CEDAR POINT ROAD AND ST. PETER’S CHURCH…THERE WAS SPOTTY TREE DAMAGE…UNTIL THE AREA AROUND THE CHURCH. AT THE CHURCH…SEVERAL LARGE CEDAR TREES WERE SNAPPED/UPROOTED…WITH TREES AND GREENHOUSES NEAR THE CHURCH SUSTAINING DAMAGE.

TIMING…BASED RADAR AND DAMAGE REPORTS…THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN AT APPROXIMATELY 625 PM…WITH THE TORNADO LIFT UP AT APPROXIMATELY 635 PM.

ADDITIONAL DAMAGE…SPORADIC WIND DAMAGE WAS SEEN FROM THE TERMINUS OF THE TORNADO…NORTH ACROSS THE REST OF LE SUEUR COUNTY TO AROUND THE CITY OF UNION HILL. THIS DAMAGE WAS ASSOCIATED WITH STRAIGHT LINE WINDS OF APPROXIMATELY 50 MPH. THESE WINDS…WITH SPORADIC WIND DAMAGE WERE SEEN ACROSS THE REST OF SCOTT COUNTY…ACROSS THE WESTERN TWIN CITIES METRO AREA…AND UP INTO THE CAMBRIDGE AREA.

CLIMATOLOGY…THIS IS THE SECOND EARLIEST DATE A TORNADO HAS BEEN REPORTED IN MINNESOTA HISTORY. ACCORDING TO THE MINNESOTA STATE CLIMATOLOGIST…THE ONLY EARLIER RECORDED TORNADO OCCURRED ON MARCH 18…1968 IN TRUMAN…NORTH OF FAIRMONT.

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