NWS Twin Cities Home Page » Historical Severe Weather Events » March 29, 1998 Tornadoes » Forecasts and Warnings

The Southern Minnesota Tornadoes of
March 29th, 1998

Stories from the...


What National Weather Service Forecasts and Warnings Were Issued?

Although severe weather of the magnitude that occurred on March 29, 1998, is not at all common in southern Minnesota during the very early spring, the events of that day were well forecast by the National Weather Service, including the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls forecast offices and the Storm Prediction Center, providing the public ample warning that significant severe weather was possible late in the weekend. As a result of the excellent service to the public, the Twin Cities forecast office was awarded a prestigious Bronze Medal by the Department of Commerce in December 1998.

Staff Photo Bronze Medal Bronze Medal Close-up

The first signs of bad weather began to appear in the computer model data on the evening of Friday, March 27 th. By late Saturday morning, the Storm Prediction Center, who, at that time, only issued severe weather outlooks for the Day 1 and Day 2 time periods, placed the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, the eastern third of South Dakota, and all of Iowa and Wisconsin in a Slight Risk of severe weather. However, the severe weather risk over southern and central Minnesota, northern Iowa, and western Wisconsin appeared even more significant, warranting a Moderate Risk of severe weather in the same Day 2 Outlook.

Day 2 Outlook

The observational and computer model data that poured into the various National Weather Service offices on the 28 th and early on the 29 th did nothing to decrease the meteorologists’ concern. In fact, the new data increased the concern, with the Minnesota State Forecast Discussion from early Sunday morning detailing the threat of strong to violent tornadoes and Sunday’s local Severe Weather Outlooks from the Twin Cities, Sioux Falls, and LaCrosse forecast offices conveying similar threats. The Day 1 Severe Weather Outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center during the early morning continued the Moderate Risk, shifting it slightly to the west and shrinking it due to increasing confidence that the area under the biggest threat was located near the Minnesota/Iowa border.

Day 1 Outlook

Shortly after the end of the lunch hour, the Storm Prediction Center coordinated with the local forecast offices about issuing a Tornado Watch, with the Particularly Dangerous Situation designation, for a large portion of the Moderate Risk area. At 1:35 pm, Tornado Watch #132, valid from 2:00 pm until 8:00 pm, was issued for all of southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and slivers of eastern South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and western Wisconsin. The Tornado Watch was in effect for almost an hour and a half prior to the first tornado touchdown.

Tornado Watch

At the local forecast office level, a multitude of Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings were issued for the supercell. Ample lead time accompanied each of the tornadoes, except for the first touchdown in Dakota County, a warning that was issued as the tornado touched down. The following table summarizes the lead times for each of the tornadoes and the counties affected by them.

Tornado

Counties

Time of Touchdown or Entry into County

Time of Tornado Warning

Lead Time

1

Nobles

3:23 pm

3:09 pm

14 minutes

2

Nobles

3:25 pm

3:09 pm

16 minutes

3

Nobles

3:28 pm

3:09 pm

19 minutes

4

Nobles

3:35 pm

3:09 pm

26 minutes

5

Nobles

3:45 pm

3:09 pm

36 minutes

6

Murray

3:50 pm

3:09 pm

41 minutes

Cottonwood

3:55 pm

3:50 pm

5 minutes

Watonwan

4:28 pm

4:21 pm

7 minutes

Brown

4:30 pm

4:21 pm

9 minutes

Blue Earth

5:05 pm

4:56 pm

9 minutes

Nicollet

5:07 pm

4:56 pm

11 minutes

7

Murray

3:55 pm

3:50 pm

5 minutes

8

Nicollet

5:18 pm

4:56 pm

22 minutes

Le Sueur

5:35 pm

5:23 pm

12 minutes

9

Le Sueur

5:48 pm

5:23 pm

25 minutes

10

Rice

6:09 pm

6:08 pm

1 minute

11

Rice

6:16 pm

6:08 pm

8 minutes

12

Dakota

6:25 pm

6:25 pm

0 minutes

13

Dakota

6:43 pm

6:25 pm

18 minutes

Average Lead Time

15 minutes

The following table outlines the important forecast and warning products issued by the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls forecast offices and the Storm Prediction Center on the 29 th, as well as the times of related events, such as tornado touchdowns.

 

Time (CST)

Forecast Product

Product or Event Details

3:15 am

State Forecast Discussion
NWS Twin Cities

Potential for F3 tornadoes in southern Minnesota during the afternoon

5:00 am

Severe Weather Outlook
NWS Twin Cities

Stresses tornado potential and need to monitor the weather situation during the afternoon and evening

6:10 am

Special Weather Statement
NWS Sioux Falls

Highlights Moderate Risk of severe weather and need to be aware of the weather situation

10:52 am

Significant Weather Outlook
NWS Sioux Falls

Mentions tornado potential across southwestern Minnesota, southeastern South Dakota

12:26 pm

Special Weather Statement
NWS Twin Cities

Thunderstorms south of a Redwood Falls to Minneapolis to Rice Lake line could be particularly strong with tornadic potential

1:35 pm

Tornado Watch #132

In effect from 2:00 to 8:00 pm, Particularly Dangerous Situation

1:48 pm

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Lincoln, Southern Minnehaha, Eastern Turner counties, In effect until 2:35 pm

2:10 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Severe Thunderstorm Warning remains in effect for Lincoln, Southern Minnehaha, Eastern Turner counties

2:35 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Lincoln, Southern Minnehaha, Eastern Turner counties allowed to expire

2:52 pm

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Rock County, In effect until 3:25 pm

3:09 pm

Tornado Warning

Southern Murray, Northwestern Nobles, Northeastern Rock counties, In effect until 4:00 pm

3:16 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Southern Murray, Northwestern Nobles, Northeastern Rock counties

3:23 pm

Tornado touches down 2 miles N Lismore (Nobles County)

3:25 pm

Tornado touches down 3 miles E Leota (Nobles County)

3:28 pm

Tornado touches down 2 miles N Wilmont (Nobles County)

3:30 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Southern Murray, Northwestern Nobles, Northeastern Rock counties; Tornadoes reported near Lismore and Wilmont at 3:28 pm

3:35 pm

Tornado touches down 2 miles NW St. Killian (Nobles County)

3:45 pm

Tornado touches down 3 miles NE St. Killian (Nobles County)

3:45 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Southern Murray, Northeastern Rock counties; Warning cancelled for Northwestern Nobles County

3:50 pm

Tornado touches down 7 miles E Avoca (Murray County); Becomes the Comfrey, Hanska tornado

3:50 pm

Tornado Warning

Cottonwood, Eastern Murray counties, In effect until 4:40 pm

3:55 pm

Tornado touches down 4 miles SW Fulda (Murray County)

4:00 pm

NWS Twin Cities calls Brown, Watonwan counties urging spotter dispatch around Comfrey and Darfur

4:13 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Cottonwood County; Warning cancelled for Eastern Murray County

4:21 pm

Tornado Warning

Brown, Watonwan counties, In effect until 5:25 pm

4:24 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Cottonwood County

4:30 pm

Tornado hits Comfrey

4:31 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Brown, Watonwan counties

4:34 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Brown, Watonwan counties

4:34 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Brown, Watonwan counties; Tornado reported in Comfrey

4:40 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning for Cottonwood County allowed to expire; Tornado produced damage near Jeffers at 4:10 pm

4:51 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Brown, Watonwan counties; Damage to Comfrey Fire Hall; Tornado believed on the ground moving toward Hanska

4:56 pm

Tornado Warning

Blue Earth, Nicollet counties, In effect until 5:55 pm; Tornado reported east of Hanska

5:04 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Brown, Watonwan counties; Tornadoes reported from Lake Hanska to South of Sleepy Eye; Damage and injuries reported in Comfrey

5:07 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties; Tornadoes reported in eastern Brown County near Lake Hanska

5:14 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties; Possible tornado in Cambria

5:15 pm

Comfrey, Hanska tornado lifts 4 miles ESE Courtland

5:18 pm

Tornado touches down 2 miles E Nicollet (Nicollet County); Becomes the St. Peter tornado

5:21 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties; Two confirmed tornadoes in Nicollet County

5:23 pm

Tornado Warning

Le Sueur County, In effect until 6:15 pm

5:25 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties; Tornado reported in Cambria Township

5:31 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning for Brown, Watonwan counties allowed to expire

5:35 pm

Tornado hits St. Peter

5:35 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties

5:35 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Blue Earth, Nicollet counties; Another storm moving into Blue Earth County, possibly containing tornadoes

5:43 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Le Sueur County

5:45 pm

St. Peter tornado lifts 5 miles WNW Le Center

5:47 pm

Tornado Warning

Northern Blue Earth, Southern Nicollet counties, In effect until 6:35 pm

5:48 pm

Tornado touches down 2 miles N Cleveland (Le Sueur County); Becomes the Le Center tornado

5:53 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Le Sueur County; Tornado reported in St. Peter

6:01 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Le Sueur County

6:03 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Le Sueur County; Tornado reported in Le Center, damage to a trailer park

6:04 pm

Le Center tornado lifts 1 mile ESE Montgomery

6:08 pm

Tornado Warning

Rice, Le Sueur counties, In effect until 7:05 pm; Confirmed tornado in Le Center at 6:00 pm

6:09 pm

Tornado touches down 3 miles SW Lonsdale (Rice County)

6:12 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Northern Blue Earth, Southern Nicollet counties

6:16 pm

Tornado touches down in Lonsdale (Rice County)

6:16 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Rice, Le Sueur counties; Unconfirmed tornado 4 miles W of Highways 21 and 99

6:24 pm

Lonsdale tornado lifts 5 miles ESE Lonsdale

6:25 pm

Tornado Warning

Dakota County, In effect until 7:15 pm; Tornado reported in Lonsdale

6:25 pm

Tornado touches down 5 miles W Castle Rock (Dakota County)

6:25 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Rice, Le Sueur counties; Tornado reported in Lonsdale, damage to garages and houses

6:33 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning cancelled for Northern Blue Earth, Southern Nicollet counties

6:40 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Rice, Le Sueur counties

6:43 pm

Tornado touches down 6 miles SW Hastings (Dakota County)

6:55 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning remains in effect for Dakota County; Rotating wall cloud reported in Farmington

7:13 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning for Rice, Le Sueur counties allowed to expire

7:16 pm

Severe Weather Statement

Tornado Warning for Dakota County allowed to expire

Note: All Storm Prediction Center graphics are courtesy of Jeff Peters.


USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.