One look at the front yard of Rick and Jan Farmer’s Eden Prairie house reveals the power of a severe storm that ripped through the Twin Cities on Saturday night.
A large basswood tree slumps on its side, its gnarled roots torn from the ground in an unwieldy heap. The tree didn’t hit their house but ended up crashing into the neighbor’s Airstream camper parked next door.
“We could have had the whole thing paid for if we charged a dollar to all the people who drove down the street yesterday to take a look,” Jan quipped. “I think word of mouth spread that, ‘Oh you should see the tree.'”
But, there’s more.
In their backyard is another equally large and now uprooted basswood resting on the ground. Miraculously, Jan said the tree missed hitting the couple’s house, deck and shed when the storm toppled it.
“If you hired somebody to take it down, they would have a heck of a time laying the whole thing down at once like that,” Jan said as she stood near the tree, blanketing a portion of her backyard.
Jan, who has lived in the 1978-built house since 1984, is taking the demise of two large trees in stride.
“What are you going to do?” she said. “My grandkids (Simon and Eliza Farmer) came over and I got some pictures of them. The little 7-year-old was standing on the trunk with his head just poking out.”
In the wake of the storm, Eden Prairie resident David Durkee posted social media photos Sunday of trees blown down in a narrow half-mile area of southeast Eden Prairie. He said it looked like damage from a small tornado, though he couldn’t find reports that say that.
A city spokesperson on Monday said the storm caused a few downed trees in parks and neighborhoods in southern Eden Prairie.
The Farmers say damage on Kensington Drive appears concentrated. Jan said there were no trees down on the other side of the road.
Rick described the storm that came to their neighborhood as very focused.
“I believe it was straight-line winds,” he said. “But they have a tendency to just poke down and focus their energy in a very narrow strip.”
The National Weather Service Twin Cities reported Monday that it found a non-continuous damage path consistent with four brief EF0 tornadoes that occurred Saturday night in Dakota County, from Burnsville northwestward to West St. Paul.
Most of the damage caused by the maximum winds of 75-85 mph was to trees or caused trees to fall onto structures. Under the Enhanced Fujita Scale, EF0 is the weakest form of a tornado.
Jan said she and her husband were home when the storm occurred at about 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. Saturday.
“My husband was home riding his bike, which he does religiously,” she said. “And, I was sitting right in the house, and I heard the beeping across the bottom scroll of the television. I got up and it said (there was) severe weather in Scott and Dakota counties. I thought, ‘Well that’s close, but it’s a little bit more east and south.'”
She heard no booms or large cracks like a big branch snapping off — just some “noises” about five minutes after the TV alert that were odd enough to get her to check it out.
“I did not even realize the front tree was also down until Rick finished his bike ride,” she said. “I relayed the backyard news and he investigated the front yard.”
On Sunday afternoon, the couple and several neighbors worked together to clear some fallen trees off a fence and the Airstream, damaged by the tree. Their neighbors had been planning to use it for an upcoming camping trip.
The Farmers plan to have the two fallen basswood trees removed professionally. The tree service they used to remove a few trees in May came out on Monday to assess the damage.
“What they do is that they cut the tree back to dispose of all the branches and maybe leave three or four feet at the base,” Rick said. “They use heavier equipment to tip it back into the hole and compact it, then grind the stump up. Apparently, that’s the cheapest and the best way to do it.”
Jan has noticed one difference since the storm.
“It sure is bright in the house without the trees,” she quipped.