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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published August 10 2010

Richland, Wilkin counties tornado confirmed to be EF4

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that Saturday’s tornado in Richland County, N.D., and Wilkin County, Minn., was a category EF4.

That makes it the fourth EF4 tornado in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota this season, according to meteorologist Greg Gust, based in Grand Forks.

“This is easily double now of the typical tornadic activity we’d expect to see in a given year,” Gust said.

The other three EF4 tornados this season, from June 17, were in Wadena, Minn.; the Bluffton, Minn., and Almora, Minn., area; and north of Mayville, N.D., near Holmes, N.D.

Saturday’s tornado had estimated peak winds of 170 mph to 175 mph. It had a total path of five miles with a maximum width of 600 yards.

The National Weather Service sent a meteorologist from Sioux Falls to offer a second opinion Monday, which is protocol for tornadoes of that magnitude, Gust said.

EF5 is the maximum on the Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado damage.

The tornado touched down about 6:25 p.m. Saturday near Tyler, N.D., or about 10 miles south of Wahpeton, N.D.

As the tornado moved northeast into Minnesota, it increased in intensity, the Weather Service said. It ended about seven miles south-southeast of Breckenridge.

The Weather Service estimates the tornado was on the ground for more than 20 minutes.

The tornado leveled 14 farm buildings on two farmsteads, one in North Dakota and one in Minnesota. No injuries were reported.

There were at least four distinct tornadoes Saturday night, possibly as many as seven, but none as severe as the one near Tyler, the Weather Service said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590