Tornado Reported Near Rochester – 78 MPH Wind Gust at RST
Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - As predicted, the record-setting warmth that covered much of southern Minnesota ushered in an extremely rare night of severe weather throughout the region.
A super-fast moving line of thunderstorms moved through the Rochester area between 7 and 8 PM with wind gusts nearing 80 miles per hour and a possible tornado just south and east of the city. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning around 7:45 PM affecting an area from near Stewartville through Marion Township to Eyota and into Winona and Wabasha Counties. There was a report of a confirmed tornado near Plainview just after 8 PM. It marked the first time in recorded history a tornado has been reported in Minnesota in December.
Around the same time the warning sirens were going off in Rochester, a 78 mile per hour wind gust was reported at the Rochester Airport. At last report, the strongest gust reported in the Rochester area was 85 miles per hour in Plainview, followed by an 83 mph gust at Grand Meadow. There were also several reports of 70 miles per hour and higher gusts in parts of Dodge County and a report of a semi-truck tipped over by high winds near Winona.
The damaging winds caused power outages throughout the region. Locally, Peoples Cooperative Energy is reporting some major outages in areas just south of Rochester. Stewartville had nearly 2700 homes and businesses in the dark.
Click on the following links to check on the latest outages in the Rochester area.
Video Footage of Tornado Damage in Hartland, MN:
Potential tornado activity was reported earlier in the evening in Freeborn County. Heavy damage to a bank and some homes was reported in Hartland just northwest of Albert Lea. There have also been reports of significant structural damage in northern Iowa, including flattened barns near Mitchell, Iowa.
The damaging storms followed a day of record setting warmth. The unofficial high of 64 degrees at the Rochester Airport was the warmest for December 15th in Rochester and tied the city's record for the warmest temperature recorded in Rochester in December.