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Tornado near Tyler, N.D., could be EF4

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A tornado that severely damaged two farmsteads Saturday near Tyler, N.D., could be rated an EF4, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

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A team from the Weather Service in Grand Forks surveyed the damage Sunday and determined the tornado was at least an EF3 and potentially greater, said meteorologist Greg Gust.

The Weather Service will send a meteorologist from Sioux Falls, S.D., today to give a second opinion, Gust said. Tyler is less than 10 miles south of Wahpeton, N.D.

The tornado was strong enough to dismantle buildings, toss a pickup and rip sugar beets from the ground, Gust said.

"Clearly, it was a very strong, devastating tornado," said Gust, adding that winds were in the 140-mph range and possibly greater.

Saturday night's storm involved at least four tornadoes and possibly six or seven, Gust said. None of the other tornadoes was as severe as the one near Tyler.

The tornadoes started in Richland County, N.D., and stretched into the Minnesota counties of Wilkin, Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas and Todd.

The only significant structural damage officials are aware of is along the Richland and Wilkin county line, Gust said.

That's where two farmsteads were severely damaged, displacing two families.

Richland County Emergency Manager Brett Lambrecht said both families have received assistance from the Red Cross. One is staying in an area hotel and the other is staying with immediate family, he said.

No injuries were reported.

Once the tornado formed southeast of Tyler, it slowed considerably, increasing the severity of the damage, Gust said.

"It had a little more dwell time, a little more time to dig in there," he said.

Spotters said it was on the ground for more than 23 minutes, Lambrecht said.

People who haven't reported tornado damage are asked to call their local sheriff's departments.

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