During the severe weather that swept through southern Minnesota March 6, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Zimmerman at 5:39 p.m. And 1 minute earlier a tornado touched down in Clark’s Grove, setting the record for the earliest tornado in state history.
But it turns out there was actually a third tornado – and it occurred earlier than those two.
The National Weather Service confirmed Sunday that an EF-1 tornado in Faribault County touched down at 5:04 p.m. on March 6 – so about a half hour prior to the Zimmerman and Clark’s Grove twisters – making it the new record holder for the earliest tornado ever in Minnesota.
The tornado developed northwest of Bricelyn, traveled on the ground for 9.6 miles, then lifted up just west of the Freeborn County line, the weather service says. Peak wind gusts were about 90 mph.
The tornado destroyed a garage, barn, and a few sheds, with the National Weather Service noting the most severe damage happened at the Pihl’s Campground on Rice Lake, about 6 miles south of Wells. That’s where the tornado lifted and threw a camper 20 feet. (See photos from some of the damage here.)
The weather service says it took so long to confirm this tornado because it didn’t receive any damage reports until March 10, and then heavy snow on March 12 forced officials to delay surveying the damage until it melted.
Before the March 6 storm, the previous record for Minnesota’s earliest tornado was March 18, 1968.