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NWS Confirms EF-1 Tornado Struck Near Plato On Memorial Day

PLATO, Minn. (WCCO) - At least four tornadoes ripped through parts of Minnesota on Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service.

Small farming towns southwest of the metro, including Plato and Hamburg, were hit hard by Monday's storms. An EF-1 hit Plato on Monday with winds of up to 90 mph.

Those in the area are now working to recover from the damage. Norman Heldt was hit with a setback to his farming season. He saw the storm coming his way while he was out feeding the cattle.

"I saw a couple of streaks of lightning, as high up as I could see to the ground, and it started rumbling and I took off for the house as fast as I could," he said.

Heldt made it to safety just in time. His barn, built in 1911, was destroyed in a matter of minutes, but fortunately no cattle were inside the barn the time the storm rolled through.

Plato Farm
Credit: CBS

Heldt's home still stands, but the winds created enough pressure to blow out two of his top floor windows.

"I'm just glad I got good kids helping to get everything back in order," said Heldt.

Just a few miles down the road, strong winds damaged the Plato baseball field. The storm canceled the game Monday night with the neighboring town of Hamburg. Their ballpark is also damaged.

Longtime ballpark volunteer, Robert Mueller cleaned up what he could on the Hamburg baseball diamond Tuesday afternoon, but there was nothing he could do to fix the grandstand roof.

The steel roof was fully ripped off and now sits in the farm field out back.

"Everybody knows everybody in town and they told me, 'Hey, your roof is gone,' and I was just about to drive by the park, and that's never happened before," said Mueller.

Both Plato and Hamburg rally around their baseball teams this time of year, and this storm won't stop the summer tradition from happening.

"People will go out, 'Oh, you're from Hamburg? I know the baseball park,'" said Mueller.

The three other confirmed tornadoes: An EF-2 tore through the small report town of Forada, located about nine miles south of Alexandria, with winds as fast as 120 mph; the town of Eagle Bend, in central Minnesota, was hit by an EF-1 tornado, with wind speeds topping out at 95 mph; and an EF-0/EF-1 tornado caused damage between Appleton and Glenwood in southwestern Minnesota.

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