NWS confirms tornado struck Rochester Thursday night - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

NWS confirms tornado struck Rochester Thursday night

Tornado east of Albert Lea Tornado east of Albert Lea
Damage to a home in Northwest Rochester Damage to a home in Northwest Rochester
This used to be a house in Blooming Prairie This used to be a house in Blooming Prairie

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC-DT) -- The National Weather Service confirms it was a tornado that destroyed homes and downed trees and power lines Thursday night in Rochester.

Crews out surveying damage say an EF-1 tornado struck the northwest part of the city shortly after 9 p.m.

The twister started near the intersection of Liverpool NW and Windslow Lane NW, near 55th Street.  It then tracked across Highway 52 and hit the Menards building before continuing northeast and dissipating a few minutes later.

The National Weather Service says the path of the tornado was 1.3 miles long and the tornado itself was 150 yards wide.

Homes in the Lincolnshire neighborhood, near Carlos O'Kelly's, were badly damaged.  75 homes in a five-block area have damage, including 10 homes with significant damage.

One resident reported being "blown out of bed," but he was not seriously hurt. 

The Menards store lost part of its roof and debris was littered around the store. 

After the storm, Mayor Ardell Brede declared a local emergency.

1,400 homes in Rochester were still without power Friday afternoon.  At one point around 5,000 Rochester Public Utilities customers were without power after the storm. A spokesperson says crews plan to work through the weekend to restore power to customers.

KTTC-TV also lost power Thursday night and was knocked off the air at least three times, starting around 9 p.m.  

Meantime, we're learning more about the person who was killed in Freeborn County when tornadoes roared through the southeastern part of the state earlier in the evening.

The victim is 67-year-old Kathy Woodside.  She was in her rural farmhouse west of Albert Lea, near Armstrong, when the twister tore through the area.

Her husband, Ron, is at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester with serious injuries that include broken arms, legs and ribs.

Woodside's son tells the NewsCenter his parents did not have a basement.  Deputies say they found Kathy Woodside under a mattress.

A very large tornado was reported in Kiester, about 15 miles southwest of Albert Lea around 7p.m.

Freeborn County's Emergency Management Director Mark Roche estimates a series of five to nine tornadoes dropped down in the county's rural areas along an 18 to 20 mile path.  40 to 60 farms were damaged.

Significant damage has also been reported in the Hollandale area.

Another tornado was reported in the Ellendale/Clarks Grove area around 7:40 p.m.

The storms were part of a cold front crossing the state from east to west Thursday night.

Tornadoes in north-central and northwestern Minnesota killed two other people.

The Polk County Sheriff's Department says one man was killed when a twister hit a Cenex station in Mentor, Minnesota.

The tornado destroyed the gas station and four vehicles.  Three other people were hurt when the tornado hit about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Earlier, authorities in Otter Tail County reported a woman killed by a tornado in Almora.

Friday, Governor Tim Pawlenty made visits to two of the areas hardest hit.  Gov. Pawlenty and Emergency Management Director Kris Eide toured Albert Lea and Wadena on Friday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost in the severe storms that swept across our state this evening," Governor Pawlenty said in a written statement Thursday night.  "Our emergency management officials have been working closely with local officials and we stand ready to assist in every way needed.  Tomorrow we will visit the areas hit hardest by these tornadoes to ensure that the response is swift and comprehensive."


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