MARSHALL - Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten admitted to being a little caught off guard by what transpired in area skies Monday afternoon.
Southwest Minnesotans mostly were preparing for some snow and blowing snow Monday. What some got was far different and something usually reserved for late-summer months.
Monday's storm system included multiple sightings of strong cloud rotation and funnel clouds southeast of St. Leo in Yellow Medicine County - a far cry from the blizzard that was predicted.
"The storm really came up fast," Flaten said. "We got probably 10 minutes notice from the weather service that there would be a weather event, but nothing serious - maybe some hail, some rain, some wind. But watching it on radar, we could see it building, and about 10 after 4 we started getting 911 calls about swirling clouds and a tornado."
"It was a pretty strong system that moved through," said Sally Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Sioux Falls, S.D. "It was so strong and developed very quickly, which is part of the reason we had the tornado - they happened to be on the warm side and the cold air came in very quickly. We had sites dropping 20 degrees within an hour, hour-and-a-half."
Flaten said three farm sites experienced structural damage to outbuildings and grain bins. There was also some damage caused by flying debris, Flaten said.
"It makes zero sense," he said. "You end up with a tornado in southwest Minnesota and 15 inches of snow in the same day in northwest Minnesota. Luckily nobody got hurt; people should recover from it OK."
Aside from very strong winds that persisted throughout the night and into Tuesday morning, the action north of Marshall was about the extent of Monday's winter/spring storm. Snow flurries left only a dusting of snow in many areas of Lyon County and into Murray County.