EMMAVILLE, Minn. (AP) _ Residents of northwestern Minnesota were cleaning up scattered damage Friday after at least one tornado tore through the area.
The National Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., reported that several houses were destroyed in this unincorporated town in Hubbard County.
Law enforcement officers reported damage around Park Rapids about 9:45 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service said. The tornado caused widespread roof damage on the town's east side, and cars were reported in a ditch near here.
Hubbard County Sheriff Gary Mills said there are no reports of injuries or missing persons. He said the tornado was spotted about 9:15 a.m.
A Hubbard County sheriff's investigator, Jerry Tatro, actually drove into the tornado on the ground about 2 miles southeast of Park Rapids, Mills said.
"Jerry said he's never seen anything like that," he said.
The Hubbard County sheriff's office started tracking the tornado north. At one point it split and went in two different directions, Mills said.
"Right now, I can tell you we've been fortunate," he said. "We are also fortunate to have so many people and agencies helping."
Emmaville resident Drew Huntziger told KSTP-TV that every tree in his yard was uprooted and his mobile home took some damage. He said his neighbor also had a lot of damage, including losing a big metal shed.
KPRM-AM in Park Rapids reported that a turkey farm near Blueberry Lake was destroyed, a small housing development took minor damage and many trees were downed throughout the area.
Carmen Diestler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the popular Itasca State Park, which is northwest of Park Rapids, lost a few trees but suffered no damage to public areas and remained open.
The weather service also reported damage in the small town of Menahga and the north and northwest sides of Pickerel Lake.
A tornado watch is in effect for Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing counties until 4 p.m. today.
Park Rapids is a town about 70 miles northwest of Brainerd.
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