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Investigator: Tornado hit Park Rapids

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The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-1 tornado packing wind speeds of 105 mph hit Park Rapids at 10:30 Monday night.

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It was accompanied by a microburst (strong straight-line winds).

"The first sign of touchdown was approximately 5 miles southwest of Park Rapids where a prefabricated home was destroyed," the report states.

The storm continued on a northeast trajectory "touching down periodically as it moved to the west side of Park Rapids," meteorologist Mark Ewens reported.

"EF-1 damage was noted at the Hubbard County Fairgrounds where the roof from the grandstand was lofted approximately 150 yards east severely dam-aging a residential home and a vehicle parked there," the report continues.

"The tornado weakened as it continued northeast causing damage to docks and a pontoon boat on the east end of Fish Hook Lake," the report states.

At that point Ewens estimated it was an EF-0 tornado with wind speeds of 85 mph. The EF-0 tornado touched down again 3 miles northeast of Park Rapids at 10:40 p.m.

"A microburst accompanied the tornado causing a significant amount of damage up to 1 mile to the east of the tornado track," the report states.

"Numerous trees and structures were damaged, particularly in the city of Park Rapids. Based on the damage observed maximum wind speeds were estimated around 95 mph" as the storm whooshed through the city.

Three years ago this week an EF-3 tornado caused massive damage to cabins on Pickerel Lake and an EF-2 tornado destroyed turkey barns near Hinds Lake.

The eastern Otter Tail County area was pummeled by high winds the same night that the tornado struck in Hubbard County, but the National Weather Service has determined that no tornado touched down in the eastern Otter Tail area.

Meteorologist Jim Kaiser told the East Otter Tail Focus newspaper that NWS officials were in the area on Tuesday investigating what could have been a brief tornado, but have determined that it was just high winds.

The overnight storms left trees and power lines down throughout eastern Otter Tail County. Docks, boats and pontoons on Big Pine Lake, Rush Lake and others were flipped or damaged.

The National Weather Service estimates that winds in the area could have reached as high as 90 mph.

(Sarah Smith writes for the Park Rapids Enterprise, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper)

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