Severe storms revisit Morris area with damaging hail and wind
MORRIS, Minn. -- Severe storms, which have been a largely uncommon visitor in the Morris area this summer, made their presence felt in the late afternoon on Tuesday, Aug. 6 as a powerful, rotating supercell thunderstorm raked a path of damage from west to east across Stevens County.
The day started out humid and sunny, and severe storms were not on most people's minds. However, these sunny and fair conditions were a devil in disguise. The strong August sun heated the ground which led to a very unstable atmosphere primed for supercell storms.
At 3 p.m. the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch in Stevens County and most of west central Minnesota. Shortly after the storms fired up.
The most intense and dominant storm of the day developed over far southwestern rural Traverse County where a warm front was located northwest to southeast along and just north of Highway 28 over Stevens County. The storm tracked southeastward into Stevens County and began to interact with the warm front, where it quickly exploded in intensity just north of Alberta and grew to a height of over 55,000 feet as it approached the city of Morris. Here it dropped golfball- to near baseball-sized hail and produced winds of up to 60 mph, causing significant and widespread property damage to vehicles, buildings and some crops.
A tornado warning was issued for Stevens County shortly after 4 p.m. as local trained weather spotters watched a rotating wall cloud and a funnel cloud west and north of Morris. Thankfully the storm did not produce a tornado, despite the conditions being favorable.
Storms that produce large hail are not uncommon in the Morris area in August. In 2012 the city was hit by a large and damaging hail storm in the early evening on Aug. 15 where hail golfball-sized and larger did widespread damage to the city and the surrounding area.
Even though we are well past the peak of the severe weather season, we can still have severe weather events well into the fall months.
Nick Elms is a local news and weather contributor.
Correction: This story originally stated that the last storm producing large hail hit on Aug. 25, 2012. The storm actually hit on Aug. 15. This story has been changed to reflect that correction.