The National Weather Service says storms that came through Otter Tail County early Wednesday, July 8, did produce weak tornadoes that resulted in scatted damage, including damaging an RV park near Ottertail.
Greg Gust, warning coordinator meteorologist with the the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D., said that based on the damage there were two to three weak tornados in the squall line near Fergus Falls and Long Lake. According to Gust, the tornadoes seemed to have been embedded in strong down burst winds with 100 to 105 mile per hour winds.
The weather service put out tornado warnings for Otter Tail County and the surrounding counties about 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 8. Storm damage in the city of Ottertail and Fergus Falls was reported to the NWS.
In Ottertail, the Lakeside RV Park, on Long Lake, was damaged in the storm. No one was hurt when the storm hit the park at what owner Jeff LaVigne guessed would have been around 5 a.m. Out of the 11 unoccupied campers, nine of them were severely damaged and left toppled.
The park opened for the season last Friday and did not even make it a week, LaVigne said.
The damage looks like the work of a tornado, although that is not known for sure, LaVigne said. He said that he suspected that because the damaged campers were twisted instead of simply knocked over. There are some campers that are knocked over but the grill is still in place, he said.
According to LaVigne, the playground was destroyed, but the docks and picnic tables were left exactly where they had been.
There were 5,000 reports of power outages and 10 communities reported damage from storms early Wednesday, July 8, Otter Tail County Emergency Management Director Patrick Waletzko said. According to Waletzko, Perham, Dent, Ottertail, and New York Mills were among the communities that reported storm damage.