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EF-2 tornado tears 30-mile path from Cotton-Pickerel lakes to Menahga

The tornado was “likely wrapped in damaging downburst winds” for portions of its path, which included Little Toad Lake, Toad Lake and Wolf Lake, ending around two miles southeast of Menahga, according to the National Weather Service.

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On Cotton Lake, the tornado wrecked a dock and sent a pontoon flying 70 or 80 feet, where it landed upside down in the water on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Cleanup and power restoration continues after an EF-2 tornado tore a path from the Cotton-Pickerel lake area all the way to Menahga on Friday evening.

“This tornado path is nearly 31 miles long!” the National Weather Service in Grand Forks said on its Facebook page.

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Power crews were working long hours trying to get electricity restored after a tornado downed trees and powerlines over a 30-mile path on Friday evening, June 24, 2022.
Vi Anderson / Detroit Lakes Tribune

No injuries or deaths were reported, but the tornado left thousands of downed trees in its path, along with a trail of wrecked boats, docks and lifts, and knocked out power to the area.

The tornado was “likely wrapped in damaging downburst winds” for portions of its path, which included Little Toad Lake, Toad Lake and Wolf Lake, ending around two miles southeast of Menahga, according to the Weather Service.

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Cleaning up on South Cotton Lake Road on Saturday after a tornado hit on Friday evening, June 24, 2022.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Estimated peak winds were 115 mph and the maximum width of the tornado is estimated at 600 yards.

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The tornado was on the ground from 9:58 p.m. to 10:35 p.m.

“Numerous pine, oak and poplar trees were violently snapped or uprooted along with several snapped wooden power poles,” the Weather Service said in its tornado report. “Farm building roofs were ripped off. A modern hog barn, an older style barn annex and several smaller outbuildings were blown down at various farmsteads.”

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A tornado downed trees and damaged buildings from Cotton Lake to Menahga on Friday evening, June 24, 2022.
Vi Anderson / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge reported on its Facebook page that a tree fell on the Visitor Center.

“There was significant tree damage on the refuge after Friday night's storm,” Tamarac Wildlife Refuge reported on the Cotton Lake Association Facebook page. “The wildlife drive has been cleaned up and is now open for traffic. The visitor center will remain closed on Sunday and we expect to open Monday or Tuesday. Thank you for your patience as clean up continues.”

Power poles were down all over and power lines lay across roads in the South Cotton Lake area, which looked like a war zone over the weekend, with heavy equipment in affected areas loading up and hauling off cut-up trees and branches, and the constant buzz of chainsaws.

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Thousands of trees were downed by a tornado in Becker County on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Vi Anderson / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“There is extensive damage to the electric grid from the high winds, fallen trees and downed lines,” Wild Rice Electric reported on its Facebook page after the storm. On Sunday at 8 p.m. the electric cooperative reported that “the linemen teams made significant progress today! They have been at it for 12-plus hours today and are still going!”

With the exception of a few outlying properties, “the focus continues to be on the south and west sides of Cotton Lake and the east side of Pickerel Lake,” Wild Rice reported. “The jungle mess of down lines, broken poles and busted trees is a delicate and time consuming restoration.”

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There was a lot of chainsaw work to do Saturday after a tornado hit Cotton Lake on Friday evening, June 24, 2022.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Wild Rice Electric received help over the weekend from three other electric cooperative teams, and said that help will continue Monday.

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The Monday morning planning session included a detailed inventory of how many new poles, transformers and wire will be needed to repair all the damage and restore all lost power, Wild Rice reported.

The tornado left its mark across eastern Becker County.

“We had over 100 trees down by the cabins and RV park at Ice Cracking Lake,” Stephanie Cameron commented on the National Weather Service Facebook page. “Three cars damaged, several sheds smashed and my dad’s boat had a tree land on it. They were all uprooted.”

Terry Tietz Beck commented that “on Wolf Lake, we lost a shed roof from a downed pine that also punched a hole in the camper roof. There’s a LOT of trees down on our 80 acres, but on one 3 acre corner of the 80, I counted about 30 trees down — took out almost the entire west tree line that was exposed (open field across the road). It’s a mess.”

Stephanie King said on the same Facebook page that “we have about 100 (or more) trees down in our area in Evergreen.”

Also on Friday evening, an EF-1 tornado tore a four-mile path through the Naytahwaush area, with winds up to 105 mph and a maximum tornado width of 400 yards, according to the National Weather Service.

The tornado was on the ground from 9:16 p.m. to 9:23 p.m. and was “likely wrapped in downburst winds and heavy rain as it traced east-northeastward across North Twin Lake and the community of Naytahwaush, ending 1 mile east northeast of the town,” the Weather Service reported.

Nobody was injured, but the “tornado snapped or uprooted numerous pine, poplar and oak trees. It tore roughly 40% of the roof decking off of one house and shingles and roofing materials off of other buildings along its path.”

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