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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly 40 years ago, the Twin Cities was hit by a tornado of epic proportions.

On June 14, 1981, the Lake Harriet/Har Mar tornado touched down in Edina on a Sunday afternoon.

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It then created a path of destruction through Minneapolis and up into Roseville.

(credit: CBS)

Eighty-three people were hurt and one person was killed.

Even by severe weather standards, this F-3 tornado hit quickly and with a purpose. With wind speeds reaching 160 miles an hour, it moved 15 miles across the Twin Cities. A 9-year-old boy was hospitalized after being flushed down a culvert. A man jogging around Lake Harriet was hit by a flying tree limb.

“I went down on both knees and I tried to get up and I couldn’t get up. I laid there for about a half an hour until the ambulance came,” said Charles Arthur.

The tornado initially touched down near 50th and France in Edina. The marquee on the movie theater was one of the first casualties.

“Definitely that’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” said Bill Barington.

Barington is a retired Edina police officer. He was the first to call in the storm after he saw strong winds hit an apartment building. It’s a call he hopes saved lives.

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“I noticed the roof started coming off and the debris started coming over the ramp and hitting my squad, damaging it. Breaking windows and headlights,” said Barington. “Maybe the best way to describe it is it just looked like a war zone.”

For people in Minneapolis, it’s the Lake Harriet tornado. For people in Roseville, it’s the Har Mar tornado. And even though the lake and mall are about 15 miles apart, the storm connected them in more ways than one.

“It was a spectacle,” said Kenny Blumenfeld, senior climatologist with the Department of Natural Resources. “It legendarily dropped fish from Lake Harriet into the Har Mar Target parking lot.”

Blumenfeld was a kid when the tornado touched down just blocks from his home. Another climatologist in 1981 was so fascinated with the storm that he went out of his way to map it.

“He actually walked the entire damaged path. From Edina, through Minneapolis, and into Roseville,” said Blumenfeld.

Forty years later the tornado still serves as a reminder of just how destructive and devastating Mother Nature can be.

“People just flocked into Edina, Minneapolis and especially Roseville to see the damage … You could see the damage for weeks and even months afterwards as it tore through houses and neighborhoods in south Minneapolis right up into Roseville,” said Blumenfeld. “People like me who grew up remembering it have a lot of stories and we’ve been talking about it a lot. It definitely left an imprint on the city.”

One-hundred and twenty National Guard members were called in after the storm to prevent looting of damaged homes and businesses in Roseville.

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It’s estimated that the tornado was on the ground for about 26 minutes and at one point it lifted over the University of Minnesota without doing damage.

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Juneteenth celebrated across the Twin Cities

Kristi Belcamino writes in the Pioneer Press: “For St. Paul resident Laverne McCartney Knighton, seeing old friends and sitting down to some soul food outside Allianz Field was just her first stop on a day spent celebrating Juneteenth across the Twin Cities.… President Joe Biden on Thursday signed the bill creating the Juneteenth National Independence Day. On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth Freedom Day in Minnesota. … The 2021 Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Allianz Field was one of several celebrations held across the Twin Cities to mark the holiday.”

And Babs Santos reports for FOX 9: “Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in America, which just became a federal holiday this week, was recognized on Saturday with a ceremony across the Twin Cities metro. Ceremony to mark the holiday were held in Minneapolis and St. Paul, along with several other metro cities — aside from commemorations across the country. In St. Paul’s predominately Black Rondo neighborhood, the holiday was marked with a ceremony including St. Paul Mayor Carter and Governor Tim Walz.”

Katie Galioto writes in the Star Tribune: “The Twin Cities are regaining their vibrancy, as the pandemic wanes and people resume urban rituals that suddenly feel extraordinary. Thanks to high vaccination rates, summer weather and the lifting of Minneapolis and St. Paul mask mandates, June has marked a reanimation of Minnesota’s metropolitan core after more than a year of COVID-induced inactivity. The signs of revival are everywhere — a whiff of fried food at Como Town amusement park, a melody floating from Lowertown Sounds live concerts, a line of cars once again circling the North Loop in futile search of street parking.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Libor Jany reports: “As Minneapolis struggles to develop a new approach to public safety amid intense scrutiny of its Police Department, it faces a depressingly familiar problem: how to curb surging violence as the weather warms. As of Thursday, the city had 273 gunshot victims and 43 homicides so far this year, mostly by gunfire. Overnight Friday, five more people were shot and wounded in Dinkytown. … According to the most recent police statistics, the number of people shot citywide went up nearly 90% compared with the first half of last year, while homicides jumped from 22 to 40 in that same period. This year has seen violent crime arrests drop by about a third, with about 400 so far, compared with about 600 at this time last year.”

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FOX 9’s Mary McGuire reports: “24 hours after dismembered body parts were identified by authorities, family members are reeling after learning 36-year-old Adam Johnson was murdered. Behind the gruesome and shocking headlines is a man that JoJo, who requested to be identified as such to protect her privacy and safety, says was a valuable part of her family.… She shared a young son with Adam Johnson, the 36-year-old man police have identified after discovering several severed body parts on Thursday morning in northeast Minneapolis. Jojo says Johnson was a father of three and had struggled with mental health issues, and recently, homelessness.”

In the Star Tribune, Rochelle Olson writes: “The path to the Paris Olympics pool in 2024 may lead through the eastern end zone at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. … In recent years, the swimming trials in Omaha have expanded beyond a low-key event into a two-week moneymaker that attracts 2,000 swimmers, sells out 14,000 seats nightly and gets wall-to-wall television coverage. Thirsty for revenue, USA Swimming saw growth potential and courted other cities. MNSE, a new nonprofit trying to attract major sporting events to Minnesota, eagerly entered the competition, became a finalist and was invited to Omaha.”

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