June 11 2004: Northeast Iowa - Southeast Minnesota Tornadoes

Last Updated: 6/17/2004


Event Summary

A small, but intense Supercell formed along a warm front that was stretched across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa on Friday afternoon, June 11, 2004. It initially developed near Charles City, IA and then tracked northeast into Howard County, Iowa. From that point on it began to produce a series of tornadoes as it moved north toward the state line.

Based on reports, the first tornado touched down about 4 miles northwest of Elma, IA, north of County Road B17. Touch down was in an open field and was rated F0 on the Fujita Damage Scale. Besides a few trees down, there was no damage observed. Approximate time was 5:25 p.m.

No other damage could be found as the storm tracked north until it approached the Riceville, IA area where it dropped another brief touchdown. A few sheds and buildings on the east side of Riceville were damaged, with mainly tin blown off roofs and siding torn off. This damage was rated F0 and the approximate time was 5:35 p.m.

A much more significant tornado formed around 5:50 p.m. about 4 miles north of Riceville or 4 miles southwest of Le Roy, Minnesota, just east of the Mitchell-Howard County line. The tornado formed in open fields near County Road A23 just east of Addison Avenue, which is the Mitchell-Howard County line. It hit several homes and farms (F2 damage) as it tracked straight north toward the Minnesota-Iowa state line, only feet from the county line. One home lost the roof and all outbuildings, while another home right on the state line was completely destroyed. The tornado was approx. 150 yards wide at times and apparently reached low end F3 damage intensity right on the state line around 6:00 p.m.

The tornado then started to weaken but did heavy damage to a grain company (Koch Industries)(F2 damage) about 2 miles west of Le Roy and continued north crossing Highway 56 just before 6:15 p.m.. The tornado lifted approximately 4 miles northwest of Le Roy in open fields.

There were also brief tornado touch downs (all rated F0) near Dexter and Le Roy, Minnesota, as well as areas along the Mower-Fillmore County line west of Spring Valley.


Timetable of information released Friday:
  • 12:15 p.m. - Hazardous Weather Outlook stating "BUT A FEW STORMS ALONG THE WARM FRONT MAY BECOME TORNADIC. THIS WILL HAVE TO BE MONITORED CLOSELY."
  • 1:45 p.m. - Tornado Watch issued for northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota.
  • 3:49 p.m. - Hazardous Weather Outlook stating "...INCLUDING AREAS ALONG AND WEST OF HIGHWAY 63 IN SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA AND NORTHEAST IOWA WOULD BE THE MOST FAVORABLE LOCATION FOR ANY SUPERCELLS AND POSSIBLE TORNADO DEVELOPMENT INTO THE EVENING HOURS.
  • 5:20-5:40 p.m. (estimated) - Brief tornado touchdowns west of Elma and near Riceville.
  • 5:32 p.m. - Tornado Warning for Howard County, until 6:15 p.m.
  • 5:50 p.m. - Tornado starts 4 miles south west of Le Roy, MN.
  • 5:53 p.m. - Tornado Warning for western Fillmore and Mower County, Minnesota.
  • 6:15-6:20 p.m. - Tornado lifts 4 miles northwest of Le Roy, MN.






Map of Tornado Track








Radar Pictures






Regional Visible Satellite Image at  545 pm Friday.  0.5 degree Base reflectivity at 454 pm Friday showing the supercell forming.




0.5 degree Base reflectivity at 523 pm Friday around the first brief tornado touchdown.
0.5 degree storm-relative velocity at 523 pm Friday around the first brief tornado touchdown.






0.5 degree Base reflectivity at 548 pm Friday near Riceville.
0.5 degree storm-relative velocity at 548 pm Friday near Riceville.





0.5 degree Base reflectivity at 603 pm Friday with the storm on the MN/IA border.
 0.5 degree storm-relative velocity at 603 pm Friday with the storm on the MN/IA border.





0.5 degree Base reflectivity at 648 pm Friday with the supercell storm now near Racine and the squall line affecting Mower county. 
0.5 degree storm-relative velocity at 648 pm Friday with the supercell storm now near Racine and the squall line affecting Mower county. 



Damage Photos

Damage in Riceville, IA. Home damage about 4 miles southwest of Le Roy, MN in extreme northwest Howard County. Garage damage. Cars were also thrown.
Home demolished near the Minnesota-Iowa state line. Heavy damage to same home near the state line. They hid in the basement and survived. Sheds damaged west of Le Roy.
More damage west of Le Roy to sheds. Track of the tornado in Howard County, looking south. Projectiles thrown into Mitchell County Iowa.

Panoramic view of damage southwest of Le Roy, MN.

Tornado Photos

Tornado in extreme northwest Howard County, IA. Photo by James Bass and Holly Melver. Tornado southwest of Le Roy, MN. Photo by Kurt Grover. Another shot of tornado. Photo by Jordan Gilgenbach and Lindsay Viker.

Last updated: June 17, 2004 / Baumgardt / Shea


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