Strong winds leave destruction on way through central Minnesota Thursday night

The first round of severe weather struck Verndale around 8 p.m. A tornado watch remains in effect until midnight Thursday.

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Trees were uprooted when strong winds tore through Verndale on Thursday night.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

VERNDALE — Severe winds struck a large swath of central Minnesota on the evening of Thursday, May 12.

The first round hit the Verndale area just before 8 p.m. and toppled trees throughout the community. A funnel was reported by one witness, though the type of winds have not yet been confirmed as of Thursday night. Rain was part of the storm and hail was expected though not witnessed in Verndale.

Shingles and roofs were torn from homes and shops. A garden shed was flattened. Remnants of trampolines were seen scattered through backyards.

The Verndale School reported Thursday night that school would be two hours late on Friday due to the storm damage.

The evening was warm, humid and calm before the storm struck suddenly from the south. A weather alert from the National Weather Service was announced through cellular devices of a tornado warning lasting until 8:30 p.m.


One resident shared they heard a loud boom just before power went out across the city.

Other reports of damaging wind and power outages were reported in the region including Wadena and Bluffton. Reports from Bertha were that many trees were down there as well. Based on power outages, it appears damage is widespread. Minnesota Power showed 287 customers were without power in Wadena County. It looked like the storm ran out of energy not long after entering Wadena County. Other area counties were struck worse including Otter Tail County with over 12,000 customers without power.

Visit for realtime data on outages in Minnesota.

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A power outage map from PowerOutage.US shows the path of destructive winds from Thursday, May 12.
Contributed image

Unfortunately more severe weather was expected as the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch until midnight Thursday for the following counties: Wadena, Otter Tail, Becker, Norman, Grant, Clay, Wilkin.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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