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Minnesota Weather: Tornado Kills 1, Injures 2 In Otter Tail County

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- One person is dead after a tornado roared through Otter Tail County in central Minnesota Wednesday evening.

The sheriff's office says one person is dead and two are injured after the tornado struck near Dalton at 5:30 p.m. Three farmsteads were hit, and one of those farmhouses was flattened, said meteorologist Vince Godon with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Two people were taken to a hospital, according to Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons. Their conditions were unknown.

The tornado crossed Interstate 94 but no vehicles were affected, according to the weather service.

A National Weather Service staffer is at the scene checking the tornado aftermath, Godon said, but the tornado is believed to be at least in the EF-3 category, with winds of 136-165 mph.

Otter Tail County Tornado
(credit: CBS)

Alissa Wilbur and Paige Fode captured the tornado on their cellphones as it ripped through a farm along Interstate 94 in Ashby.

The two were driving from the Twin Cities on their way to their school in Grand Forks. Entering Ashby in the early evening, they got an alert there was a storm warning in their area, but did not expect a tornado to pop up.

"It was definitely an experience, very scary," said Wilbur, "It kind of got in front of us a little bit. Thankfully it veered to the right and went into those fields."

They said the tornado popped up quickly, but stayed spinning near the interstate for a while.

"On the ground probably 20 minutes that we could see," said Wilbur.

"We didn't see any damage, but once we got to the part of the interstate that it did cross, you could tell because there was water everywhere. It had picked up water from some lake or something," said Fode.

Otter Tail Co Tornado
The tornado seen in Otter Tail County. (credit: Alissa Wilbur)

The water that Fode describes seeing likely coming from Pelican Lake, which is seen from another angle of the tornado captured by JoAnn Beardsley.

"Me and my grandkids were down at a lake, Pelican lake. We were swimming and I saw what looked like it was coming out of the clouds and then a funnel formed inside," said Beardsley.

She said they got out of the area before it got too big. She was able to record the tornado on her phone from her Ashby farm.

"I figured it had to be a pretty monstrous tornado because I'm probably at least three, four miles from where it would drop down," said Beardsley.

In this rural area, Wilbur and Fode said they didn't have any exits to take and get shelter.

"We continued to drive because we didn't really know what to do," said Fode.

Eventually they made it passed the storm, emotionally shaken, but physically OK.

Otter Tail Co Tornado
(credit: Joann Beardsley)

"Now we got into Fargo on our way to Grand Forks and the sun came back out," said Wilbur.

The National Weather Service says if you are outside or driving when a tornado is nearby, you should get to a sturdy indoor shelter immediately, or drive your car into a low-riding ditch, get down and cover your heads.

Damaging storm were also reported Wednesday evening in Crow Wing County. The sheriff's office says there are no reported injuries, and deputies are still assessing damage as of late Wednesday night.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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