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City crews, volunteers and homeowners worked at a feverish pitch to clear up tree debris this week. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

EF-1 tornado hits Park Rapids area

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The National Weather Service confirmed earlier this week that an EF-1 tornado packing wind speeds of 105 mph hit Park Rapids at 10:30 Monday night.

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It was accompanied by a microburst that dumped as much as 2 inches of torrential rain on the region.

"The first sign of touchdown was approximately 5 miles southwest of Park Rapids where a prefabricated home was destroyed," the report states.

The storm, measured 10 miles long by a mile wide, continued on a northeast trajectory "touching down periodically as it moved to the west side of Park Rapids," meteorologist Mark Ewens reported.

"EF-1 damage was noted at the Hubbard County Fairgrounds where the roof from the grandstand was lofted approximately 150 yards east severely damaging a residential home and a vehicle parked there," the report continues.

"The tornado weakened as it continued northeast causing damage to docks and a pontoon boat on the east end of Fish Hook Lake," the report states.

At that point Ewens estimated it was an EF-0 tornado with wind speeds of 85 mph. The EF-0 tornado touched down again 3 miles northeast of Park Rapids at 10:40 p.m.

"A microburst accompanied the tornado causing a significant amount of damage up to 1 mile to the east of the tornado track," the report states. "Numerous trees and structures were damaged, particularly in the city of Park Rapids. Based on the damage observed maximum wind speeds were estimated around 95 mph" as the storm whooshed through the city.

Park Rapids public works director Scott Burlingame said he has had crews working hard all week and expects clean up to be completed next week.

On Wednesday, some city staff worked a 16-hour day, he said. They have been busy hauling trees and debris to the transfer station.

Park Rapids Mayor Nancy Carroll said she's been amazed at how quickly fallen trees were cut up and removed from properties.

"Residents, business owners, friends and families worked diligently to clean up the debris from their properties," she said. "City staff has been working around the clock on the clean up and we really appreciate their dedication and hard work. Judging from the constant buzzing sounds around town, I think we have a very high number of chainsaws per capita!"

She also spoke with the city administrator from Wadena Thursday and he offered to send equipment or anything else the city might need to recover. It was such a kind offer, she said.

Clean up efforts will continue next week. If anyone has questions, contact City Hall at 732-3163.

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