The National Weather Service has confirmed that 16 tornadoes touched down last Wednesday in southeastern Minnesota during the historic storm that rampaged through the Midwest.
The Dec. 15 storm — which is now being attributed to a derecho event — shattered several Minnesota records for severe weather in December; the tornadoes were the first ever recorded in Minnesota in December.
“This just hasn’t happened before,” said Stu Ireland, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis.
The wind barreled into the region at speeds between 60 and 90 mph, destroying buildings, uprooting trees, leaving cities without power and killing one Rochester man when a tree fell on him.
Ahead of the storm, tornado warnings were issued, another first for the state.
The first tornado touched down in Alden, Minn., in Freeborn County at 6:56 p.m.. For the next hour, 15 more tornadoes hit, with the last one recorded in Homer, Minn., in Winona County, at 8:16 p.m..
The strongest tornado hit the town of Hartland in Freeborn County and was rated EF-2, with winds estimated at 115 mph. A number of structures were damaged in the community of 300, including in the downtown area.
The National Weather Service confirmed 11 additional EF-1 tornadoes, with winds of 90-110 mph, in Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Four EF-0 tornadoes with 80-85 mph winds were confirmed in Fillmore, Freeborn and Winona counties.
Southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa also witnessed an outbreak of tornadoes during the storm.