(Dalton, MN) The National Weather Service has given a Wednesday tornado in Minnesota’s Grant and Ottertail County an EF-4 rating, with an estimated peak wind of 170 miles an hour.
The tornado began at 5:08 PM in Grant County and intensified; ending at 5:39 in Otter Tail County. The tornado was on the ground for 9 miles and had a width of 650 yards.
The Weather Service says the storm may have produced one or more additional, but brief, tornadoes along its path.
The tornado claimed the life of a 30-year-old Battle Lake man, Seth Nelson, when it touched down near Dalton. Another Battle Lake man was working right beside him that day and didn't think he would survive the tornado. Nate Erickson says he made a split decision to dive under a tractor that saved his life as the shop walls around him started to collapse. Erickson held on to the tractor as he was dragged across the ground but he survived. A slab of concrete is all that remains of the shop where Erickson and 30-year-old Seth Nelson worked in alongside one another. The two were together when the tornado ripped through the building, killing Nelson. Erickson says he hasn’t slept well since the tornado and expects it will be sometime before he "begins trusting mother nature."
Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons said two other people, Linda and Gareth Klimek, who suffered minor injuries were released from the hospital. He said things could have been worse had the area been more populated.
Ottertail Emergency Manager Patrick Waletzko says teams are tallying up the damage left behind.
The Weather Service classifies tornadoes on a scale of EF-zero to EF-5.
Additional information provided by Learfield Wire Services.