Friday, March 31, 2023

“It Saved My Entire Family” – Survival Story of WEA Alerts

On September 20, 2018, Minnesota experienced one of the most prolific tornado days in the state’s history. Twenty-five tornadoes tracked across the state, with one long-track EF-2 tornado crossing into western Wisconsin. While local residents impacted by the tornadoes remember the day well, the story did not garner national attention. In particular, the tornado that struck the Red Barn Farm near Northfield, MN that day, didn’t grab headlines either. But it should have.

Image courtesy of Red Barn Farm webpage showing the destroyed barn in the background. 13 people received the WEA tornado warning on their phone, took shelter underground, and were unharmed from an EF-2 tornado.

Yes, the Red Barn was destroyed while hosting a birthday party, but because of timely tornado warnings and Wireless Emergency Alerts, everyone emerged unscathed. 

Patrick Winter is an owner and operator of the Red Barn Farm, which is a popular place for wedding receptions and parties near Northfield Minnesota, about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities. He and his family were celebrating his mom’s 77th birthday on the evening of Thursday September 20, when all their cell phones went off simultaneously with a WEA tornado warning. After monitoring the storm for a few minutes, and getting continuous alerts, 13 people (and 1 dog) sought shelter in a 6 by 6 foot concrete feed room that was located underground beneath the Big Red Barn. Minutes later, a tornado struck their farm, completely destroying the Big Red Barn. Regarding the WEA alerts, Patrick said, “It saved my entire family, otherwise we’d have been gone; a mile down the road with the rest of the barn”. 


Originally published at

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