NWS Twin Cities Home Page » Historical Severe Weather Events » March 29, 1998 Tornadoes » Newspaper Excerpts

The Southern Minnesota Tornadoes of
March 29th, 1998

Stories from the...

What Did the Newspapers Say?

Mankato Free Press

Monday, March 30th

“…his neighbor … checked on him and got him medical treatment for an injured leg. ‘The back door blew in and knocked him down …’”

“We just got home from a movie and heard the sirens … We ran inside and heard the roar, the house was shaking. We grabbed the kids and ran to the basement. …we’re OK, but everything’s gone. I was too shocked to cry. My husband cried. He’d built the garage, done a lot of work.”

Tuesday, March 31st

“We were just so fortunate that the college was on spring break and there weren’t very many students around … Can you imagine what might have happened if the campus was full when this thing hit?”

“There were a lot of broken windows, and there was corn all over the living room.”

“Once I seen the funnel, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. My life is gonna be over.’”

“There was a big, black wall cloud, and it looked like a black line separated from it. It was huge – a big, wide tornado that stretched across most of the horizon. I said, ‘If you’re not already in a safe place, get to a safe place now … ‘ The mike was still on and I turned to [the other broadcaster] and said, ‘Let’s go!’”

“It was just kind of a whomp, whomp, whomp … I saw the roof move. It looked like it moved up and down a couple of times and then everything was quiet.”

“…he watched from his back door as the tornado approached. The entire sky was black. Then, a lighter-colored column descended. ‘When it hit, water just started shooting out of cracks in the basement floor and the whole house started bouncing.’”

“[He] could see the storm bearing down. But his stomach was bothering him. So he figured he’d head down to the hospital to get it checked out. ‘I thought I’d take a gamble on it … I lost.’ He never reached the hospital. On his way past the St. Peter Community Center, bricks began to fly. He thought quickly – maybe he should duck under a van. … Before he could rule out other courses of evasive action, a community center wall came tumbling down on top of him. [He] lay unconscious for a spell, then awoke to find himself pinned beneath concrete, stones and rubble with his hands clasped around his face.”

Wednesday, April 1st

“…[he] watched as a fog came up in a nearby field. Then, uncharacteristically, it began to swirl. Hail started falling. Then a black wall in the sky moved down to gobble his house. … The family headed outside toward a root cellar, about 60 feet from the home. They only made it 6 feet. [Their] daughter … grabbed the doorknob on a storage building just as its roof exploded. They braced themselves against a concrete wall of the building. Their choice proved to be fortuitous. That wall is the only vertical structure left on the property.”

“It was just like being sandblasted, right through our clothes … We’ve washed them and you just can’t get the dirt out.”

“The day after, they found their 17-year-old dog in the woods, about 60 yards from the house.”

Monday, April 6th

“The best prospect for shelter seemed to be the police station a half-dozen blocks away. Speeding on Minnesota Avenue is to risk a ticket, but with the maelstrom to the west, I figured speeders wouldn’t be a high priority. I gunned the van and moments later, we bailed out and sprinted toward the police station where the dispatcher was holding the door open.”

Tuesday, April 7th

“[He] was disturbed by a story about a woman at a local cemetery: ‘She found a page torn out of a Bible. It said your city will be wrecked, and it’ll take a long time to fix.’”

“I know someone who collects angels, and she has them on her windows and her walls. Those windows and walls where the angels were didn’t get touched, but the rest of her house was demolished.”

Saturday, April 11th

“The tornado that made history March 29 took some of St. Peter’s with it. The city’s first school building … was destroyed. The 1869 three-story structure … was reduced to an open brick shell on South Fifth Street, its entire roof ripped off.”

“… the Minnesota Historical Society determined that both the old school and the old [Nicollet] hotel were beyond hope – casualties in a city made unique by the unusual number of historical buildings for a city of its size.

“It was questionable whether The Church of St. Peter should be rebuilt or torn down. A hole was blown through the body of the Catholic church … built in 1911…”

“The 1871 stone Presbyterian church had shingles missing from the roof and a window out in the bell tower. Amazingly, the two front stained-glass windows were spared. So were the stained glass windows in the Episcopalian church, also a stone structure, built in 1870.”

“The old buildings that survived the tornado have become powerful symbols of the strength of the city’s history … ‘People look up to Old Main … The old building that looked the storm in the eye and survived.’”

“Residents along North Fourth Street in St. Peter were shocked as they looked out the side of their rooms. The storm took off the side of the house…”

“In Le Center, it was almost like the storm didn’t want anyone to be warned. As soon as the severe weather siren started blowing, the storm sent a bolt of lightning into the transmission tower at the Le Sueur County Courthouse.”

“It [Le Center] looks like a war zone. For the amount of damage we had, that nobody was killed is a miracle.”

“A row of mobile homes [at Sunny Terrace in Le Center] was so thoroughly pulverized that [they] could only guess at how many houses the pile of rubble represented. Five or six was their final guess.”

“It was a nervous night for [him] … [he] found it impossible to reach his parents … in St. Peter. The tornado damaged the US West building in St. Peter, disconnecting telephone service for the town, as well as for neighboring Nicollet, Gibbon and Lafayette … By way of a cellular phone, [they] got word to a family member that they were safe.”

“Majestic trees that lined St. Peter’s main thoroughfare were toppled, allowing Gustavus Adolphus College and the damage done to its Christ Chapel [to be] visible.”

“Those who visited St. Peter, Comfrey or the rural areas hardest hit by the storm begin to grasp the severity. But even then, they realize they are getting just a glimpse of the damage that hit eight counties.”

“Every building, animal and piece of equipment had blown away at some farm sites; large groves were reduced to twisted stumps. Comfrey residents saw virtually every business and home destroyed beyond repair.”

“…it became clear that in spite of its fury, the storm had injured and killed far fewer people than the damage would indicate.”

“A rural Hanska farmer … was in the farm yard with his two sons when a tornado hit. Hunkered down behind a short concrete-block wall, [he] began seeing barn doors and other debris blow past. Then he looked up to see … one of [his] dairy cows [sail] over his head and out into a field.”

“In St. Peter, [he] was actually watching the movie Twister with his sons … His wife … was resting upstairs when she heard the sirens and came down to ask why they weren’t taking shelter. ‘We just thought it was the movie.’ The family headed to the basement just before their house was lifted up and tossed into the next block. A neighbor later found [his] VCR a block away, pried out the Twister videotape with a screwdriver and gave it to [him] as a souvenir.”

“When it hit, water just started shooting out of cracks in the basement floor and the whole house started bounding.”

“A few families, trapped outside, reported watching helplessly as a child or spouse was pulled into the air and disappeared. Amazingly, all were dropped a short distance away without sustaining life-threatening injuries.”

“’We need all the help you can send us. Our town is pretty much gone.’ … the words of a St. Peter emergency official pleading for help from area law enforcement officials for his devastated community the night of March 29.”

“St. Peter, as darkness fell, looked like it had been carpet bombed.”

“A bank statement from a St. Peter woman’s home was later found in the Twin Cities suburb of Apple Valley.”

“West of St. Peter, toward Nicollet, farm sites were obliterated. Metal sheeting, tractors, pickup trucks and dead livestock were strewn across muddy fields.”

“A Hanska farmer was injured after winds carried him about 100 yards.”

“There is no basement in the building, so the elderly woman headed for a laundry room moments before the March 29 th tornado struck. ‘And then I heard that whistling sound. I got bad knees and I can’t bend down, so I just leaned hard against a wall … I’ve survived a triple bypass, and now I’ve survived a tornado.’”

“The destruction in St. Peter began in the south edge of town and grew in intensity as the storm headed north, seemingly straight down Minnesota Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare.”

“Just before the tornado hit, about 30 customers, including some motorists seeking shelter, joined employees in the [Hardee’s] walk-in coolers and bathrooms.”

“[He] had remained in his third-floor apartment when the tornado hit. ‘I was hiding under the sink … I was trapped up there … I could see the top of the building moving back and forth.’”

“…[he] found four people stuck inside the laundry service around the corner, the entryway clogged by trees and metal. … [He] grabbed a 2-by-4, shoved it through a hole in the storefront window, allowing those inside to smash their way out.”

Wednesday, April 15th

“They heard a sudden whoosh, and [his] ears popped. Insulation started coming down like snow. … She saw a twin-sized mattress and shoved her children underneath. … Then the house dropped into the basement. [She] could only hear the sound of wind roaring and their screaming. … When they finally peeked out, they were surrounded by chunks of their house.”

Thursday, April 16th

“After the March 29 tornado and the rainy, snowy weather that followed, an estimated 90 percent of the [St. Peter] library’s collection has been lost to damage and destruction.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Tuesday, March 31st

“[They] knew that their house was gone. They had cowered in the basement when the roof collapsed shortly before suppertime on Sunday. The chimney landed in a recliner; other possessions were shredded like paper.”

“Together, they carried out a suitcase of clothes, a grandmother’s lamp, some handmade afghans and a box of medications.”

“ … He didn’t know why he wasn’t killed. A weather watcher for the town, he had raced the 80 feet from his house to the fire hall to sound the alarm. Before he could get out, two walls were blown away and the roof collapsed.”

“Although the twister seemed merciless in its wrath, the town’s cemetery was spared, with almost all markers intact.”

“Perhaps the strangest sight was at Faith Lutheran Church. Its spire had been ripped off and thrust into the ground like a javelin.“

“’I was the homecoming king this year’ … Now that the school is gone, I bet I’ll be the last homecoming king.’”

“When the entire house collapsed into the building’s basement, a large wooden beam held up the roof section directly above the table. ‘It saved us … ’”

“At 5:40 pm Sunday, 10 minutes of darkness, ferocious wind and cold rain turned my year-old Victorian bed-and-breakfast into a tornado statistic.”

“We had one elderly woman who was terrified because her teeth were left in the house, and how could she eat?”

“But nobody could rescue the antique fire truck in Lonsdale. A 1929 Willis Overland, which was used in parades, was destroyed, along with two city garages.”

Saturday, April 4th

“…[She] was serving dinner to residents at the Grandview Good Samaritan nursing home in St. Peter on her weekend job. ‘First the sirens went off and we were in the middle of feeding. We pushed people in wheelchairs or walked everyone out into the halls away from the windows. We took sandwiches to them. It was getting really bad; the electricity went out. We were trying to get flashlights because it was dark. We went into the rooms and got bedspreads and pillows and covered everybody up. And it was scary because the windows started shaking.’ [A] resident … received [her] special attention. ‘We didn’t know what was going on. We had to stay with them. I was afraid. I was holding [her] hand. She was crying and saying she wanted to see her brother. Some of them really didn’t know what was going on. I think it was over fast. I don’t know.’”

“[He], after his house was destroyed, drove through the storm to rescue an injured farmer and two sons. …. [he] and a friend were out for a drive when the storm hit. ‘We were driving over the Little Cottonwood River and my friend said, ‘Hey … look’ We stopped and looked and the river was flowing backwards. Then we looked to the south and we could see it coming across the fields—this big, black wall.’ [He] realized that [the] Four Seasons Dairy nearby was in the path and headed over to help. ‘We were in this pocket of dead air right behind the storm. The hail was as big as baseballs. You should see the dents in my Blazer. We saw four funnels on the ground dancing around. That’s when we got scared. We saw a house picked up and blown right across the road.’ They rescued [him] and his sons … who were hurt but survived by hiding behind a concrete-block wall at a silage pit. The dairy was destroyed. They drove to the New Ulm hospital, crossing and once breaking through downed power lines. [He] found out later that his own house had been destroyed.”

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Monday, March 30th

“…snowplows were brought in to clear pathways on St. Peter streets.”

“The tower on top of the Nicollet County Courthouse was toppled.”

“[He], who was passing through St. Peter at the time, said that the storm rammed a 5-foot street sign through the back of his car, nearly killing him.”

“[A] Nobles County farmer … in southwestern Minnesota said that the tornado that destroyed his farm was ‘like riding an eight-second bull’.”

Tuesday, March 31st

“In … Comfrey, [he] raced to the firehouse to sound the warning siren as a tornado bore down on the town. He managed to sound the alarm and then dived for cover beneath a fire truck as the building disintegrated around him.”

“In St. Peter, canoes and other boats were portaged by tornado from the Alumacraft Co. plant to the bottomlands of the Minnesota River a half mile away. Some canoes also found their way into the tall branches of trees.”

“In Le Center, … manager of the Sunny Terrace trailer park directed residents to a shelter moments before the tornado hit. About half the trailers were destroyed, but the residents survived.”

“Pink fiberglass insulation from destroyed houses hung in shreds off the shattered branches, as though the city had been hit by a storm of cotton candy.”

“The Church of St. Peter … had all its intricate stained-glass windows blown out. But parishioners and the priest were counting their blessings: A half-hour before the storm the church had been packed for a service.”

“Huddled in the basement of a house on the campus of Gustavus, one of us had no idea of the extent of the tornado. As windows broke, he could only see branches flying by. There was a feeling of helplessness and fear, waiting for the storm to pass, not knowing what to expect – not knowing half of the house would be gone minutes later.”

“[He] and his wife pushed their grandson to the floor of their pickup just as the tornado picked up the vehicle, twisted it around and dumped it 40 feet up the street, where it landed on its wheels and remained upright. … Although the windshield of their truck was smashed, [they] were miraculously unhurt. ‘There was TVs and stereos flying around…’”

“…minutes after he entered the restaurant, the owner … ordered everyone away from the windows of the dining room and into a windowless, cinderblock storage area in the back of the building. … [They] estimated that between 60 and 75 people, including perhaps 20 children, knelt on the floor and braced themselves for the worst. ‘It got real quiet … We heard a whump-whump,’ apparently the sound of the roof twisting and re-settling above them. Then, ‘in the snap of a finger,’ … it was over.”

Cottonwood County Citizen

Wednesday, April 1st

“One family pulled a large Mercury into a ditch south of Storden and instructed their two children to lay on the floor. They clung to one another as nearly all of the windows were shattered by debris and pressure. ‘It was picking the car up, we could feel it going up in the air.’”

“It sounded like a bomb went off…”

“’I wasn’t really paying attention to the radio, but then I heard on the Worthington radio station that there was a tornado heading for Storden. When I turned around and looked to the west, oh my goodness. It’s a sight I hope I never have to see again. A huge white cloud was coming across the field. It was already close.’”

“’…we could see the roof was off the [Jeffers Baptist] church, but as we got closer, we saw that the church was a total loss.’ Debris from the church was thrown in a northeast direction from the structure. The roof of the building was caved in. In the wooded area to the northeast were bricks and lumber from the church. Even the remains of a neighbor’s grain bin were wrapped around uprooted trees to the northeast of the church.”

“Two vehicles … pulled into the carport of the church as hail started falling. Within seconds of pulling under the canopy, the storm hit. Each car had four people inside. None were able to get out of the car in time. ‘…Just after we [got under the canopy], it turned black. We all tried to get as low as we could so we wouldn’t get hit by debris.’…’I saw the tornado go through … We were laying down on the floor and I was holding onto the steering wheel. I looked up and it was pitch black. I saw the mass of dirt right in front of me, and it sounded like a freight train was passing by really closely. … The car was bouncing up and down and I was clinging to the steering wheel. Just like that, it was over.’”

“Comfrey’s grain elevator was hit hard. Grain bins looked like crushed aluminum pop cans afterward.”

“Comfrey’s Faith Lutheran Church sustained extensive damage. Before toppling to the ground, the steeple was driven into the ground point first.”

“The only structure in Comfrey that seems to have escaped the tornado’s wrath is the water tower.”

“Inch-thick splinters of wood were driven into [a] Ford Explorer’s tire.”

“I was above ground when it came … It was fairly warm and there was no wind. I had the doors open in the shop. I wasn’t really paying attention to the radio, but then I heard on the Worthington radio station that there was a tornado heading for Storden. When I turned around and looked to the west, oh my goodness. It’s a sight I hope I never have to see again. A huge white cloud was coming across the field. It was already close. We ran to the house and I told [our son] to get in the basement. [Our other son] was sleeping upstairs … on a bed. I grabbed him and my wife came up looking for our daughter. We found her, near the bathroom, I think, and then headed toward the basement. By this time things had started busting, windows were popping and I was holding the door shut. We were standing on the landing. We blew west and dropped into the basement. The next thing we knew, the four of us were lying in the basement.”

“We never expected to see this [damage to Comfrey] … This looks like a scene out of Vietnam.”

“But I saw the storm ahead and decided to just go home. I didn’t recognize it as a funnel cloud.”

“I heard what I thought was thunder, but it was too long of a sound, so I went outside and looked to the south and that’s when I saw it … It was one big black cloud and I could see all the stuff up in there. As high as I could see, there was stuff flying around. It was just like an egg beater up there. Everything was flying and it was spinning.”

“It was very still and then the wind came up … I knew that was a signal that it was coming. At 10 minutes to 4, we went downstairs. By the time we got downstairs, we could hear the kitchen windows popping open. We were huddled in front of the clock at 3:57 p.m. when it hit.”

“I heard it first … I could hear what sounded like planes and trains. I said, ‘It’s a tornado, but it’s not quite here yet.’ … While we were down there, the windows were popping out of the house … I think we were close enough to the eye of it that the wind came up, then it was calm and then we heard the wind come up again.”

“…I thought that if I could get to the high hill, I’d see something. Boy, did I ever see something … There were clouds rotating toward the mass from the north and from the southeast … I thought to myself that something would happen when those clouds met, so I called the sheriff’s office from my cell phone. … I could see the black clouds swirling all around my pickup … I said on the phone, ‘I think this is the last hurrah.’ Things were coming at me in every direction, and I thought that my truck was going to go airborne and that I’d be dropped in the lake. … Debris was flying by. The truck was rocking and it was pitch dark. Then, a big piece of iron hit my pickup head-on. But just as fast, it got light.”

“When I looked out the window and heard the hail, instantaneously the wind picked up … I could see sheets of mud and dirt blowing by and that’s when I knew I had to hit the basement because I hadn’t seen anything like that before.”

Tri-County News

Wednesday, April 1st

“I’ve been through four of them [tornadoes] … and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

“No one is talking about the hail … but the hail did almost as much damage as anything. It was baseball-sized hail and the ducks got caught up in it. A lot of them died or were injured – at least 200 of them. Out in the fields they were flopping around. It was sickening. Hawks fell right out of the sky.”

Storden Times/Review

Thursday, April 2nd

“Weatherwatchers, in one of the Storden Fire Department vehicles south of Storden, were caught in the tornadic winds, and despite their major efforts to outrun the tornado, could not, and had to abandon the vehicle and head for the ditch.”

Mountain Lake Observer Advocate

Wednesday, April 1st

“’We jumped out of the vehicle just as the glass windows of the pickup exploded’ … They dashed into the Cenex store as debris was flying. … ‘All around us the glass windows were shattering, freezer doors were flapping, glass was flying and I saw a 50 pound bag of dog food flying through the store. We looked up and saw large pop machines, a microwave and coffee makers so we stuck our heads inside the cupboards and hung on. I thought the building was going to go. There was so much pressure. … When it started hailing softball size, we knew it was over …’”

“’They always say that a tornado sounds like a train, but we didn’t hear any of that … The only things we heard were the sounds of things upstairs breaking and a strong wind.’ Within a short time, everything was quiet again.”

St. James Plaindealer

Thursday, April 2nd

“One daughter dashed from the car toward the house, just 30 feet away. The tornado that devastated [Comfrey] blew her like a leaf in the air and swept her around the building. Then the … home was lifted off its foundation and blown to bits.”

New Ulm Journal

Monday, March 30th

“It was a monster of a storm … It was wide and it packed a lot of power.”

“Everything that was in the living room is now in the kitchen, and everything that was in the bedroom is now in the bathroom … I looked outside and saw a tree on my deck, and decided I should go to the basement.”

“When the siren blew, we didn’t know what to do. We weren’t certain if we should just stay in the car or if we should try and make it to the church. We decided to stay in the car … We tried to lay down, and hold each other as the storm went through. All I remember was the wind and hail. I don’t really remember a roar, but the car rocked back and forth and then windows broke out … I looked up and everything around us was black.”

Wednesday, April 1st

“I told [them] to head for the basement … I went back for the radio, looked out the window and saw half of a dozen big trees just sucked out of the earth … I tackled her back down into the cellar just as the roof was coming off.”

Thursday, April 2nd

“… [he] looked the vortex in the eye after it lifted the house from above his head as he huddled behind a fuel tank in the basement. The tank slammed [him] into the wall, scratching his face and scalp and bruising some ribs, forcing an overnight stay in the hospital.”

“As the house disappeared and from the open foundation of this home, [he] watched the twister pass over his head and move across the open field in search of another victim.”

Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Wednesday, April 1st

“Several Sleepy Eye residents reported a ‘rumbling’ sound coming from the south which apparently was the noise of the tornado as it moved eastward some 12 miles south of Sleepy Eye.”

“Our [Comfrey’s] tornado spotters were out. They reported the storm was coming so we headed into the basement.”

“We watched the thing go by. It was about a mile wide, huge and black.”

“First, I saw two or three little, white tornadoes. I didn’t realize they came out of one huge tornado until it came out from behind a grove. It was only about a half mile away. … I saw things flying in the air.”

Springfield Advance-Press

Wednesday, April 1st

“All roads into Comfrey and Hanska were closed and blocked by local law enforcement officers, and no traffic was allowed in or out of Comfrey, due to the severity of the storm damage. … Comfrey was evacuated Sunday evening because of gas and anhydrous leaks, and residents will not be allowed back into town until water, sewer and electrical services have been restored.”

Lafayette-Nicollet Leader

Thursday, April 2nd

“We were outside until the hailstones got about this big [baseball size] … The cellar door went, then the storm started to suck things out, including my son … I had him in a headlock.”

St. Peter Herald

Thursday, April 2nd

“[He] left his apartment above the Embassy to seek refuge in the bar. When he returned the apartment appeared to be destroyed. [He] literally saw the tornado coming as he and others spotted it through binoculars. ‘You could see it over the college.’…They ran for cover when the wind picked up and bent a pole.”

“…[he] wasn’t alone in the building when things came crashing down. ‘We had about four or five people inside with us ...We had the doors wide open so the wind would blow right through, but the next thing I knew, the roof collapsed.’ …some of the people in the alley thought about seeking shelter in a crawl space under the part of the building that came down. They opted not to… [he] and his wife live above the building, and they were lucky that their apartment wasn’t wiped out.”

“A man and woman walked with bird cages in their arms and a dog on a leash down Broadway Avenue. ‘I don’t know where we’re going, … Our house is destroyed, I don’t know what else to do,’ tears were streaming from their eyes.”

“The rain and wind picked up and all of a sudden it was on top of us. Our neighbor got caught outside, and he was off the ground trying to hang onto a pole. He made it to the basement, finally.”

“… was in her basement praying as power poles and debris smashed into her home. She came up after the storm and discovered her garage had been relocated to a sideways position.”

“… was barbecuing pork chops with his family when they had to speed to the basement. The wind pushed the home a foot off its foundation, but with all of the noise and shaking, the family feared their home’s main floor had crumbled above them. ‘ I called 911, and they told us to stay put.’ A rescue team helped them out.”

“…Half of the house was wiped out by the storm, while five sheds, a trailer house, and two garages on the site were destroyed. ‘It’s something that never should have happened.’”

“…a Mankato State University student traveling through St. Peter from Minneapolis was caught in the middle of the storm in his car at Minnesota Avenue and Broadway. His car was totaled with all the windows blowing out and numerous flying objects striking his car and going through the open windows into his car. However, he only suffered a small cut on his knee. ‘I hid my head and kept praying and praying over and over. I never thought that I would live to see the car look like this. It’s incredible.’ “

“She was amazed that her collection of angel figurines on a shelf and one hanging in the front window survived without a scratch.”

“On Monday morning, employees began to take inventory and store all of the stock in boxes… Except for the loss of windows and movies… he had no clue that it would be anything like the way it was. Parts of cars were found throughout the store.”

“While some of the books and an aquarium were salvaged in the children’s section of the library because the roof didn’t cave in there, the rest of the library was open to the elements, including wind and rain. Hundreds of books were strewn on the floor and hundreds more were drenched by the rain. Much of the furniture also was soaked. And computer equipment also may have been damaged by the water….estimated that 25 percent of the library’s 30,000 books were lost.”

Le Center Leader

Wednesday, April 1st

“The clocks stopped at a quarter to six … That’s when we lost power. We just had a blip of the siren and then the siren was out.”

“The scene at the trailer park was chaotic Monday morning as residents sorted through their belongings. Trailers that had been hit were destroyed. ‘We don’t know yet what we’re going to do. … My son … and his girlfriend lost everything.”

“When [he] reached the fire hall, he could hear the roaring and saw the garage doors bowing in and out. He sought shelter underneath his truck. …when he got under there, he noticed something that made him change his mind. The truck began lifting up in the storm. [He] was lifted up and thrown against the garage of his neighbor. He took shelter in the house after that.’”

Wednesday, April 8th

“My pick up- it moved even that … It turned it around and moved it 35 feet.”

“When they finally pulled up their driveway, it started to rain fairly heavily. … ‘It looks like the rain is swirling. We pulled up in front of the steps, and I started to get out of our truck. Just then, the back end of the pickup went up in the air for a short distance, and [she] pulled me back inside, and said, “Oh my … the trailer’s gone!”’”

Le Sueur News-Herald

Wednesday, April 1st

“… ‘This is the third time we’ve been struck by a tornado,’… The tornado that struck Le Center Sunday night lifted the walls and roof of [their] garage and shifted it to the north, where it collapsed on itself. The van and truck in the garage suffered window damage, but were left sitting on the garage foundation.”

“Through rain, sleet and snow, the mail goes through. But it didn’t after a tornado swept through St. Peter on Sunday night. Because of restricted access to streets and homes, regular mail was not delivered in St. Peter on Monday. In many cases, the homes were destroyed, and trees were strewn across the roads, making delivery impossible.”

“We got down in the laundry, and [he] was walking in the hall, and I yelled, ‘…get your [behind] down here,’ and he did, just as the storm hit.”

“Just as she opened the door of her apartment on the top floor to come down to the laundry, the storm hit. The wind slammed the door open, pinning her between it and the wall. It saved her life. If she’d opened it a few seconds earlier or later, she’d have gone right out the top with all her stuff.”

Wednesday, April 8th

“Some houses looked like doll houses with the walls torn off. In one house, a bottle of champagne still sat on the kitchen counter, but the rest of the house was gone. Perhaps the bottle of champagne was a symbol of celebrating life.”

Montgomery Messenger

Thursday, April 2nd

“…it all happened so fast they didn’t have time to get out of the car and find a place of safety. Suddenly … they were surrounded by this grey mass swirling around the car. Black specks were in this mass and boards were flying over the car. …they felt something heavy hit the passenger side of the car, but the window didn’t break. The suddenly, they both felt a slight rising sensation and the car twisted sideways on the road. ‘All I could think of was yellow brick road here we come.’”

Northfield News

Wednesday, April 1st

“If [she] and her husband … hadn’t just returned from a Hawaiian vacation, they would have been in Comfrey attending the wake of [her] 98-year-old step grandmother. Most of her family was at the funeral home attending the wake when the tornado ripped through town. According to [her], when her family members realized a tornado was on its way, they knew they had to get to a basement. The funeral home didn’t have a basement, so they all took off for nearby churches. Some drove, some ran, and some didn’t make it to either church. One aunt and uncle still were in their car when the tornado went through. One of [her] brothers was in his car on his way into town. He looked in the rearview mirror and saw farm buildings being torn from their foundations. The tornado caught up to him quickly, and he realized he no longer was steering his car. He huddled under the dashboard and held on to the steering wheel for dear life. Miraculously, he was unscathed as the windows exploded….When he realized he wasn’t going to get very far, he stopped at a friend’s house and went to the basement. Just after he closed the basement door, the storm passed above the house, and it was completely demolished.”

“Gustavus [Adolphus College] sustained heavy damage from the tornado, which lifted cars onto the roofs of buildings, destroyed the campus chapel, severely damaged the Lund Center ice arena, took the roof off the basketball arena and the press box off the football stadium and damaged the roof of the library.”

“The Sunday night tornado leveled the house’s garage and tore through the roof. No one, however, was injured in the storm. … he, his wife and their 6-week-old granddaughter … were in the basement at the time….He said the whole house shook and vibrated. And then it was all over. During the storm, [she] sat hunched over the child, while [he] stood over the two, protecting them...”

Friday, April 3rd

“[He] and his wife … were just finishing dinner around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when they heard a ‘big gust of wind’ go through the porch on the south side of the house. … The barn was totally destroyed by the storm as well as a trailer they were storing for a family across the street. Amazingly enough, neither person moved during the storm and never thought they were in danger.”

“A large tree had been blown over and crashed through the roof, destroying the back half of the home. [She], luckily enough, had been in the front part of the home and was unhurt. Being hard of hearing, [he] said that his mother didn’t even know it had happened.”

Faribault Daily News

Sunday, April 5th

“That’s what I learned last Sunday. When the sirens sound, don’t g o outside to see what’s happening. Nope, it’s better to go to the basement to see what’s happening there. In the basement, after all, you’re less likely to lose your head.”

“Even in the dark, it was obvious that the storm’s path was very defined. Everything was normal, then a few fractions of a mile farther along, nothing was.”

Hastings Star Gazette

Thursday, April 2nd

“[He] heard the loud thump of the wind as it whipped through his farm early Sunday evening. When a passing motorist came running to his door, he knew his property had sustained damage. She yelled, ‘Your barn’s in the middle of the road and someone just drove through it’ …”

Faribault County Register

Monday, April 6th

“’All the cupboards were open and broken glass was everywhere’ … [She] said a chicken that was cooking in the oven had been tossed into the living room, as was the pot from a coffee maker. It appeared that not a drop of coffee spilled out of the full container.”

Waseca County News

Thursday, April 2nd

“…a china cabinet containing crystal was left in the house undamaged.”

“After putting the car in the garage … he saw a huge black cloud about two-miles wide before going into the house and hearing the notorious sucking sound before the tornado hit.”

Redwood Gazette

Thursday, April 2nd

“I’ll never understand the mechanics of a tornado – how it can leave one home in a pile of rubble, while next door there may be a few broken windows and splashes of mud caked to the side of a home.”

“Ask any of them [citizens of Comfrey] what went through their mind when they saw what was left of their town, and they will likely say, ‘I’m lucky to be alive.’”

Owatonna People’s Press

Tuesday, March 31st

“This is the third time we’ve been struck by a tornado … We lived on a lake south of town [Le Center] and a tornado came through there and damaged our home. Then we lived in Cleveland and our home was damaged from a tornado there. Now we move to Le Center and it happens again.”

“The [Lonsdale] tornado … carried off at least one doghouse – with its occupant attached. …the dog was chained to the doghouse when it was picked up by winds about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The dog trotted back home later with half the chain attached.”

Friday, April 10th

“He saw a church spire stuck in the ground like a ‘lawn dart.’ He saw bricks coming off a church, rising straight up into the air. And he also saw a tree, 18 inches in diameter, doing cartwheels. … [They] were in Comfrey March 29 for his grandmother’s funeral. They had finished final prayers and were ‘milling around’ talking with relatives when [his] sister called, warning that tornado was on its way. … Inside, the church was ‘very quiet’ … Once outside, however, he heard a sound similar to a high-pitched vacuum cleaner…”

New Richland Star

Thursday, April 2nd

“The church that [his] family helped to build in the late 1850’s has been destroyed-the roof torn off- the steeple gone- the altar and the stained glass windows smashed. When volunteers arrived to salvage the pipe organ, they found the statue of Jesus intact, miraculously.”

New Prague Times

Thursday, April 2nd

“First we heard the roar. Then it sounded like someone was dropping a five-pound pail of rocks. Then we saw light in the kitchen. That’s when I knew we had been hit.”

Winthrop News

Wednesday, April 1st

“It was the most incredible pressure I’ve ever felt in my life … One of the doors wasn’t shut and someone tried to shut it but couldn’t. The pressure was so intense. It was like it was trying to suck you out.”

Fairfax Standard

Wednesday, April 1st

“We were watching the warnings on television and a couple employees went outside a few times to check on the weather … The second time they came back in and said the sky had a greenish look and told everyone to get in the bathrooms or cooler.”

“There was a loud roar – and it sounds just like it has always been described – like a train that’s going right over your head.”

Sentinel Tribune

Wednesday, April 1st

“’I grabbed my son and ran for the house’ … [He] gathered his family and headed for the basement. But before they could get down there, the tornado hit the house full force. … ‘the next thing I knew was somehow we all ended up in the basement, and the house was gone.’”

“We saw it coming out of the southwest then it turned to the east. When it was over we looked over … and saw the devastation.”

Litchfield Independent Review

Tuesday, April 7th

“We weren’t too busy, so we were watching the skies. Then it got really windy. Out the front windows we could see dark gray clouds swirling along the ground … We were at the front door watching. Someone was holding the door open when the wind caught the door and slammed it shut. Then a window near the door blew in.”

Cannon Falls Beacon

Thursday, April 9th

“They could hear glass breaking and things thunking against the side of the building … The bathroom door was rattling so violently, they said it sounded like a crazed person was shaking it, trying to get it open. They were on the floor and she kept saying ‘We’re going to die!’”

Alexandria Echo Press

Friday, April 10th

“Suddenly, hail started slamming down on the barn, raising a deafening racket. [He] noticed his dog slink over and cower in the hay. Looking out the half-open barn door, [he] saw what looked like a black wall. He hurried under a feed wagon and clutched the axle. Then he saw chunks and bits of debris flying outside on the ‘black wall.’ For 30 seconds the debris flew. Then, suddenly, it grew calm. Seconds later, a raging wind began again, sending debris flying in the opposite direction.”

Swift County Monitor-News

Wednesday, April 1st

“When [a] former Benson resident … returned to his home in Comfrey Monday there wasn’t a sign of the double garage that once stood next to his house. [His] house is also destroyed.”

Eden Prairie News

Thursday, April 9th

“[He] knows how the college-aged students would have reacted had they been in the dorms on March 29 when the spring tornado hit – they would have been watching from the windows. Fortunately, spring break had just begun and almost all of the student body had abandoned campus before the tragic storm hit. Windows throughout the college campus were shattered, roofs splintered, the campus cafeteria totally destroyed. Yet, no injuries were reported on the Gustavus campus.”

“The trees, buildings and homes that [he] grew up knowing were in shambles. … ‘But once I stopped and thought about the fact that this is where I grew up and played basketball and the church that I always went to would probably have to be torn down, then it hit me.’”

Baldwin (WI) Bulletin

Tuesday, April 14th

“[He] was in last Friday with some pictures he found while doing field work west of Baldwin [Wisconsin] that are likely from the St. Peter, Minnesota area as a result of the recent tornado in that region.”

Hudson (WI) Star-Observer

Thursday, April 2nd

“…she looked out the kitchen window … a small piece of paper was very noticeable. Her son … went out to retrieve the object. … Her son unfolded the paper and showed her it was a check from St. Peter, Minn. … The canceled check was 27 years old, written on Karen’s Beauty Shop’s account at the Nicollet County Bank.”

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