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Wendy Reuer, Published August 06 2013

Warm and sunny afternoon turns stormy for Breckenridge-area residents

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. – The weather here was warm and sunny for most of Tuesday afternoon. But shortly before 4:30 p.m., the skies darkened and the winds picked up to damaging speeds.

A tornado warning for northeastern Ransom County and northern Richland County in North Dakota was issued by the National Weather Service, and sirens began to blare in the city of Breckenridge.

Sara Roberts, who was in her Breckenridge home with her three children – ages 7, 5 and 2 – heard the sirens, looked outside, and saw rain and wind battering her property so hard she couldn’t see to her garage.

“We didn’t have any inkling of a storm coming,” Roberts said.

She and her children took shelter in the basement and after about 20 minutes, when it seemed the storm had passed, she emerged to see her south Breckenridge neighborhood ripped up, tree branches scattered in the streets and her backyard trampoline hanging from electric poles.

“The streets were flooded, there are branches down everywhere,” Roberts said. “Our neighbor’s shed blew apart; it’s in the other neighbor’s yard.”

Brad Hopkins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, said the weather service received reports of hail damage and strong winds, some clocking at 52 mph.

Winds of 58 mph and higher are classified as severe, he said.

No injuries have been reported as of press time but on Minnesota Avenue in Breckenridge, 3 feet of water and other debris filled the main street that crosses the Red River into Wahpeton, N.D.

Brian Nepple, owner of the Dairy Queen near the Red River in Wahpeton said the storm came quickly.

“I said, ‘Uh, oh, this isn’t going to be good,’ ” Nepple told a WDAY TV reporter.

The entire roof was ripped off one Breckenridge business, Mobile EFX, and thrown into the street along with wet insulation.

No animals were injured at the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, but the zoo has asked for about 50 cleanup volunteers to help today until noon.

The Wilkin County Fair will open as scheduled this evening.

A small tornado touched down about 6 miles southeast of Colfax, but no one was injured and no major damage has been reported.

WDAY-TV contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530