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High winds, possible tornado, cause major damage in Granite Falls, Minn.

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. -- The city of Granite Falls was cleaning up Sunday after a major storm moved through the area Saturday night. There was massive damage to trees and structures throughout town and power was still down in some areas and not ex...

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A tree uprooted during a storm Saturday is seen Sunday in Granite Falls. Susan Lunneborg / Tribune

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. - The city of Granite Falls was cleaning up Sunday after a major storm moved through the area Saturday night. There was massive damage to trees and structures throughout town and power was still down in some areas and not expected to be restored until today.

"We've got a lot of trees down and power lines down," said Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski. There were no injuries reported, Smiglewski said.

Winds were said to have reached 70 to 80 mph, and the storm may have created a tornado as well.

"It came on really fast and it hit really hard," Smiglewski said, adding it seemed to last for nearly an hour.

The Fagen Fighters Museum reported on Facebook that a tornado bore down on the Granite Falls Airport with no warning, destroying three T-hangars and the contents inside, including at least three planes.

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None of the museum's hangars or historical aircraft and artifacts were damaged in the storm.

"There is some evidence there might have been tornadic winds," Smiglewski said.

Approximately an inch and a half of rain fell in Granite Falls with some hail. The major cause of damage however was the powerful straight winds, Smiglewski reported.

Smiglewski said power went down around 8 p.m. Saturday and was just beginning to come back on line on the west side of town around 6:30 p.m.Sunday. In addition to the Granite Falls utility lines being torn down by the winds, major power lines for Xcel Energy and Greater River Energy were also knocked to the ground, causing an even bigger power problem.

The city had to borrow a three-stage generator to power the water well, so the city could continue to provide water to its residents, Smiglewski said. Other buildings like the hospital and nursing home had their own generators.

Smiglewski said the hope is to have power completely restored to Granite Falls by today or Tuesday. Power crews from other municipalities have been on hand to help Granite Falls get the lights back on.

There was also damage in the city industrial park, where at least one structure was destroyed and a few others damaged. Smiglewski said damage to homes seemed moderate, with some trees falling on properties.

While the damage is less severe than the 2000 tornado that hit Granite Falls, this storm hit more areas of town, Smiglewski said.

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"This is more wide spread damage, all over town. This was the whole town, we've been running all over the place," Smiglewski said.

The town has banded together to help clean the town up.

"It is always heartening to see neighbors helping each other," Smiglewski said.

Smiglewski said it will be a few days before the city has completed the clean up from the storm. The Fagen museum will be closed until Wednesday.

"It's been a circus around here," Smiglewski said.

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