2020-07-08 REPORTS: MN/NE/CO

Dean Baron

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Sep 25, 2006
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Minneapolis, MN
Gonna start this thread off for what was an incredible day in western MN yesterday. A lot of people were much closer than I was to the violent, long track, and ultimately fatal tornado south of Fergus Falls, MN yesterday but I still had a great view of the tornado from birth through most of its life. The storm formed at the intersection of the cold front and warm front in an environment of large vorticity and extreme instability. The storm started dropping tornadoes within 30 minutes of initiation and I was able to get on it right before it started producing. There were actually two tornadoes that happened before the third and most well known tornado. The first happened northeast of Elbow Lake and was not fully condensed but I saw dirt swirling underneath the funnel for 1-2 minutes. The second was a fully condensed needle/elephant trunk, similar in shape to the third tornado. I have video of both of these tornadoes and will post the videos once I am able to put everything together. Shortly after the second tornado lifted the third tornado touched down and would be on the ground for at least 30 minutes. The slow storm motion allowed me to watch this tornado from the same spot for over 20 minutes without moving. There were multiple times it looked like it was roping out only to grow in size before finally roping out for good around 5:45. I was worried about how I was going to get across I-94 just to my east which prevented me from trying to get a closer view. In hindsight, I could have gone north towards the tornado and still been able to get across the interstate. Still, can't complain about my decision! The storm weakened after this tornado lifted but would strengthen again and put down a couple of brief touchdowns near Vining, MN.

Here are some quick cell phone pics before I get pics off me actual camera and video camera. I was in a great spot and the pics don't do it justice. The RFD cut a huge, open, clear view of the base and tornado for its entire life. I wouldn't be surprised if the tornado was visible from 15-20+ miles away. My view was about 4 miles south of the tornado. Unfortunately the clarity from my view meant the sun reflecting off the updraft washed out my cell phone pics which makes it look like it was lot more obscured than it really was. Better pics and video of all three tornadoes to follow. Hard to believe this all happened outside of the 2% risk from the SPC!
 

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Dean Baron

Supporter
Sep 25, 2006
540
160
11
30
Minneapolis, MN
Here's a link to the video of the tornado. Grand Forks has determined it was all one continuous path which means I witnessed its birth and death and most of its life in between. Unfortunately I wasn't as close as many others but my position gave me a unique view of getting a still great view of the tornado with the updraft directly above and the RFD cutting a huge clear slot around the updraft and tornado. By far some of the best (if not the best) storm and tornado structure I've ever seen in person.

I also got a time lapse of an updraft later in the evening as things were winding down. 12x time lapse of a supercell updraft with great structure.