Tornado surprises MN town

BY SUSAN KIM | ALBERTVILLE, MN | September 11, 2002

"It was a sneaky tornado."

—Rev. Mike Trask

While much of the U.S. was observing the Sept. 11 anniversary, one Minnesota town was looking at tornado damage.

A wee-hour twister hit Albertville -- northwest of Minneapolis -- early Tuesday morning, damaging at least 20 homes and scaring residents.

Local pastors were on the scene trying to provide spiritual care and make sure their parishioners were okay.

The damage was concentrated in one subdivision north of Albertville, where roofs were blown off and large debris was slammed into the sides of homes.

"I called everybody I knew down that street," said Rev. Mike Trask at the Life in Christ Lutheran Church.

Residents got no warning of the storm even though the town has a tornado siren. Wright County officials reported they didn't activate the siren because the National Weather Service issued no warning about the tornado. Local meteorologists said the tornado simply didn't appear on their radar.

"It was a sneaky tornado," summed up Trask.

The National Weather Service, which later confirmed the tornado, classified it as an F1, the second-lowest intensity on the Fujita Scale, with winds of 73 to 112 mph. It was on the ground for up to a mile and had a path about 75 yards wide.

The Albertville tornado was rare for Minnesota in that it came both late at night and late in the year.

Trask said his church was considering establishing a disaster preparedness task force. "Our church was thinking about establishing plans to help with something like this -- a disaster team. You have to find motivated people."

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