Tornado strikes stretch of S. Minneapolis, tedious cleanup begins

Categories: Weather
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Photo by PHILLIP WERST

The storm came through in just minutes with no warning, lifting large trees and their roots from the ground and tipping them into yards, houses and streets. The tornado warning came too late, the siren even later. By the time anyone knew what had happened, stretches of south Minneapolis streets looked like disaster zones.

For the amount of trees toppled, homes damaged, and cars crushed, it's amazing no one was injured or killed. As everyone counts their blessings, the cleanup began yesterday and will likely stretch on for weeks as residents try to figure out what to do to fix their homes and property.

We visited the area last night, which had become more of a depressing tourist attraction and spot to make some easy cash. Some streets seemed to have more vultures from companies trying to make a buck helping these people fix their homes and remove debris than actual victims. Police were surprisingly willing to let people wander through Portland Avenue, which was closed to traffic, as people gawked at distraught neighbors and marveled at the size of the trees taken down.

We'll have more photos up soon, but for now check out our round up of some of the coverage from around the metro area of the storm.

In case you missed some of our coverage yesterday, here are some useful links. Some of the first damage reported in Minneapolis came from the area around the Convention Center and Electric Fetus. Spotters reported seeing a tornado just outside of downtown Minneapolis. This photo is stunning.

We have a collection of videos showing a possible tornado and the resulting damage to the area. One meteorologist actually recorded video of the funnel cloud dropping from the sky as debris rotated in the distance. We have several slideshows of tornado damage, including some from our own Andrea Swensson of Electric Fetus damage. We also have images of the worst damage along Portland Avenue.

According to the Associated Press, at least 40 homes in Minneapolis were damaged by the storm. About 4,700 customers lost electricity, Xcel Energy said, and about 2,000 were still in the dark late Wednesday.

This is the type of weather event that experts dread, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Luna in the Pioneer Press report.
"We worry about the really benign thunderstorm that develops a tornado in the metropolitan area," Luna said. "These sort-lived ones form very quickly and dissipate very fast. They are very hard to predict."

Luna said the weather service had confirmed just one tornado touchdown, in Cottage Grove. Crews would evaluate the damage south of downtown Minneapolis today to determine whether a tornado struck there, he said.
Minnesota Public Radio reports on the unsuspecting storm where residents say they never heard a siren before it hit.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was on the scene shortly after the storms to see the damage.

He blogged about what he saw:
The worst of the damage was concentrated in south Minneapolis, roughly south of Lake, east of Portland, west of 35W and north of 47th.

Traveling with Chief Dolan and Asst Fire Chief Fretal, we spent most of our time in the area around 41st. St. and 5th Av. That intersection had serious loss of trees but here--as in most of the city--almost every tree fell between houses. A couple in this area had garages that were completely leveled...one smashed by a tree, the other seemingly blown directly into the back of the house.

In spite of all the visible damage, police and inspections staff who were going door to door didn't find a single person seriously injured....which was a real blessing.
Rybak urged residents who are in need of assistance to call the city's 311 line for more information.

The weather service has only confirmed one actual tornado touchdown in Cottage Grove. Crews will be out in Minneapolis today to determine if a tornado caused the damage along Portland Avenue. KSTP has a photo slideshow of some possible funnel clouds in Cottage Grove.

KSTP has more video:

The Star Tribune has several videos of the damage too. The Strib also has a lot of good eyewitness reports of the storm.


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