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June 17, 2010, tornado locations estimated by the National Weather Service (NWS graphic)
June 17, 2010, tornado locations estimated by the National Weather Service (NWS graphic)

Three of last Thursday's tornadoes confirmed as EF-4

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The National Weather Service has rated one of Thursday's tornadoes in Grand Forks County and two in Minnesota as EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita Scale.

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- Damage teams sent to the regions Friday determined the funnel that touched down at 3:49 p.m. near Holmes, N.D., about a mile north of Mayville, N.D., reached peak winds of 185 miles per hour and was listed as an EF-4. The tornado twisted through north central Traill County in to south central Grand Fork County before lifting about 10 miles west of Thompson, the weather service said on its website. The damage path was about 17 miles long and reached a width of 150 yards at times. Owen Dahl's home near N.D. Highway 15 was swept off its foundation and destroyed.

- The storm damage team sent to northwest Minnesota confirmed that an EF-3 tornado struck Mentor, killing Wes Michaels, owner of the Mentor C-Store, and injuring three others, including Michaels' daughter, Heidi. The tornado had a path length of 15 miles, and also damaged a farm northeast of Mentor.

- The tornado that claimed a life in Almora, Minn., in Otter Tail County also was an EF-4, with peak gusts of 175 miles per hour. Damage extended out as far as 1.3 miles wide on its 36-mile long due north path. Several homes and farmsteads were obliterated, trees shredded and debarked and vehicles were propelled hundreds of feet through the air.

- Also an EF-4 was the multi-vortex tornado that touched down 3 miles south-southwest of Wadena, Minn., at about 5 p.m. stayed on the ground for 18 minutes, leaving behind a 10-mile path of damage that extended out 1.1 miles at times. The twister took aim at Wadena's industrial area between the high school and U.S. Highway 10 corridor. School buses were either hurled or stacked against each other like dominoes and hundreds of homes and warehouses were left in rubble.

The weather service said more reports of damage are being uncovered and investigated from the largest tornado outbreak since June 6, 1999, when 17 tornadoes were reported in North Dakota and three in Minnesota.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Association will meet with Polk County officials at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Crookston to conduct preliminary damage assessments from the outbreak.

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