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Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications Co., Published July 18 2011

Several tornadoes spotted Sunday in North Dakota

HANNAFORD, N.D. – A tornado touched down about 3:15 p.m. Sunday near here in Griggs County, according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.

A storm chaser told the weather service the tornado was on the ground for about two minutes, about four miles west of Hannaford, or about 14 miles southwest of Cooperstown.

The information is preliminary and will be investigated, the weather service said.

Trees and tree limbs were knocked down, but there were no reports of injuries.

An EF1 tornado hit at 1:08 p.m. Sunday four miles southeast of New Rockford, knocking a path though a shelterbelt of trees on the east side of U.S. Highway 281, the weather service said. That site would be roughly in line with the tornado reported west of Hannaford two hours later and about 45 miles southeast, pretty much following the line of a BNSF rail line to the southeast.

A tornado damaged at least three farmsteads and caused some injuries about 6:35 p.m. Sunday in central LaMoure County, said Harlyn Wetzel, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bis­marck.

Information about the nature of the injuries was not immediately available.

The area affected was northeast of Edgeley to west of Berlin, Wetzel said.

The weather service will be conducting a storm damage survey today in Stutsman, LaMoure and Dickey counties today, Wetzel said.

There were also large hail reports in Stutsman County and northern LaMoure County, he said.

Hail as big as 2.75 inches in diameter was reported across the same region, the largest reported about 15 miles north of Valley City.

Thunderstorm winds also were blamed for downed trees in several locations, including in Bemidji.

Heavy wind and rains cut visibility to near zero shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday about three miles east of Gwinner, in southeast North Dakota and threw tree branches across a highway. Wind speeds were as high as 72 mph, the weather service said.

About 800 Cass County Electric customers were without power Sunday evening after two substations experienced transmission problems. The areas affected were Englevale, Elliott, Lisbon, Crete and Stirum. Power was restored to about 300 customers around 8:30 p.m.

Hannaford damage

An apparent tornado ripped the roof off the shop at the Robert Campbell farm six miles northwest of Hannaford about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ryan Campbell and his parents “hit the basement,” as they heard the storm approaching.

It took out some trees, too, but didn’t damage any equipment or hurt anyone, Ryan Campbell said. The Campbells estimate the damage to the shop roof at about $2,500.

A neighbor, Yvonne Hetland, who lives about a mile from the Campbells, saw the funnel cloud descend close to the ground but ­didn’t see it actually touch down, she said. She took photos of it.

Campbell said he, too, didn’t see the tornado but assumes the funnel cloud came down at least far enough to wreck the shop roof.

A tornado also was reported Sunday afternoon a few miles south of the Campbell farm, but he ­didn’t see it, Ryan Campbell said. About an inch of rain fell on his farm Sunday, bringing the total the past 10 days to about 7 inches and adding to the damage from drown-out on crops, Campbell said.

Farmers near Northwood reported high winds Saturday afternoon, estimated at 60 to 70 mph, that toppled trees and laid flat some cornfields, where the corn was 5 feet high or better, as well as grain fields. The high winds also left a mess of downed tree branches in Northwood, residents said.

Stephen J. Lee writes for the Grand Forks Herald