FARGO — Emergency sirens could be heard blaring throughout the Fargo-Moorhead metro Friday night, Sept. 20, as a line of thunderstorms sweeping across the Red River Valley prompted tornado warnings across eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
But while the ominous sounds and towering, violent light show passing Fargo may have given some residents pause, it was all flash. Downtown Fargo remained dry and WDAY Chief Meteorologist John Wheeler said no damaging winds were reported in the metro.
Only a small part of northwest West Fargo fell under a tornado warning because of reported rotations in storm clouds, but sirens still activated in Fargo.
The reason for this, Wheeler said, is because of an old agreement between cities across F-M to all use their sirens if one of the cities is affected by a tornado warning. This includes Moorhead.
According to Wheeler, the agreement dates to an earlier era when severe weather warnings were issued by the county instead of the more targeted warnings issued today.
While Fargo-Moorhead was spared from any serious damage, the storm produced strong winds and golfball-sized hail elsewhere across the region.
A photo submitted by a WDAY viewer in Barrie, N.D., about 25 miles southwest of Fargo showed golfball-sized hail placed next to coins for size comparison.
Another viewer-submitted photo showed snapped trees on a farm near Blabon, N.D., about 50 miles northwest of Fargo. One of the trees fell on top of a grain bin, denting its roof.
The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings in areas to the west and north of Fargo as the storm rapidly moved north through the valley through the night, though Wheeler said no tornado touchdowns were confirmed as of 8:45 p.m.
As the storm moved north, the Weather Service issued further warnings for areas across the northern valley, including Grand Forks, Crookston, Rosseau, Thief River Falls.
The Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a tornado 10 miles north of the Grand Forks Air Force Base but it was not confirmed with the Weather Service.
Some areas received heavy rain, prompting flash flood warnings in areas including Grand Forks County, western Polk County and the area of Rousseau, Minn. The city of Hillsboro, N.D., asked residents to limit water use until storm sewers caught up with a surge of water from the storm.