06.18.2001 - Siren, WI Tornado 



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Tornado and Damage Footage
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I departed Minneapolis at 6pm after talking with Bob Conzemius about the approaching cold front and initiation north of the Twin Cities. My target was Cambridge, MN.

By the time I got north of the cities (6:45pm), several cells had developed northeast of St. Cloud. As I neared Cambridge, I could begin to see some towers and storm structure off to my northwest, most likely a flanking line off the main storm.

I met up with Andy Revering west of Cambridge where he had spotted a wall cloud, and we criss-crossed our way northeast to Braham. We were too late for the Braham tornado, but continued our pursuit east. We took I-35 north, then HWY 70 east into Wisconsin. 

East of Grantsburg we started to encounter the first clear tornado damage, as several large trees were uprooted and power lines were downed. As we continued east, the large tornado gradually came into view. It looked more like a huge wall cloud on the ground than a tornado, but the timing, location, and evident rotation lead me to conclude it was in fact the tornado over Siren (see first segment in video). 

Before yesterday, Siren was just some obscure town on the map through which Andy and I would travel on our way to intercept a tornado. But only a few blocks into town I knew we wouldn't be going any farther. Live power lines and roadblocks among other things prevented us from continuing our chase. We were only minutes behind the F3 tornado that ripped apart the town of Siren. Now Siren is like a household name.

Buildings were collapsed, roofs were blown off, sheds were pinned under huge pine trees. We watched as the dazed citizens of this small town made their way outside and began surveying the damage. "I heard something that sounded like a freight-train coming," one Siren resident recounted, "and I hollered at everyone to get in underneath the hall."

Most structures weren't completely destroyed, but none that I could see escaped some sort of damage. Some cars were rolled, and some structures lifted from their foundations, but my reaction was F2-F3 damage (NWS confirms F3).

See Radar (Loop) and Radial Velocity (Loop).

In all, three people were killed during Monday's storms, and many more were injured. My prayers are with those who lost their homes and loved ones. 

"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat."
-Isaiah 25:4

 

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