At least two tornadoes touched down across parts of west-central and north-central Minnesota on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Although they mainly moved through open farmland, three farmsteads suffered significant damage and one person was killed by the day’s strongest tornado near Dalton and Ashby, which is roughly 170 miles northwest of Minneapolis. According to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, two people were hospitalized.
This particular type of tornado was what meteorologists and storm chasers refer to as a “drill bit,” where extreme wind velocities are concentrated in an unusually narrow vortex. The first tornado was confirmed at 5:11 p.m. CDT, and potentially lasted through 5:45 p.m., based on visual confirmations. Another brief tornado formed to the east of Dalton around 6:30 p.m.
Mid-to late May is considered to be near the peak of the tornado season across the Plains of the United States, but May and June 2020 have been notably quiet with likely the fewest number of significant tornadoes in June in recorded history.
The imagery above of the supercell thunderstorm that spurred these twisters was captured by the GOES-East satellite, also known as GOES-16, which keeps watch over most of North America, including the continental United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west coast of Africa. The satellite's high-resolution imagery provides optimal viewing of severe weather events, including thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes.