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Published April 22 2012

VIDEO: Cold-air funnels spawn twisters, minor damage in western Minnesota

MOORHEAD – A cold front passing through the region Saturday afternoon spawned a few atypical tornadoes in western Minnesota, causing minor damage in isolated areas.

The storm produced several cold-air funnels and at least pea-sized hail in parts of lakes country.

Two farmsteads near Fergus Falls, Minn., were damaged from “possible tornado-type activity,” the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department said.

At the first farmstead, about six miles south of Fergus Falls, a grain bin and a shed storing boats were heavily damaged.

The second farm is located three miles east of there. Residents reported damage only to several trees and power lines.

No one was hurt at either site.

Other possible tornadoes that touched down because of the cold-air funnels were reported near Glyndon and Kent, Minn., which is in Wilkin County.

WDAY-TV meteorologist Rob Kupec said the national weather service doesn’t issue tornado warnings for cold-air funnels, but if they touch down, they’re considered twisters.

In September 2009, cold-air funnels sparked concern and brief tornado warnings in the Fargo-Moorhead area, although that storm system was not severe enough to generate tornadoes.

Mark Ewens of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks told The Forum then that cold-air funnels form from cold, humid air masses and rarely reach the ground.

In contrast, powerful tornadoes are created by warm, humid air masses, which are very unstable and lead to severe storms, Ewens said.


Forum reporter Kristen Daum and WDAY-TV News contributed to this report.