Towns, roads and farm fields in northwestern Wisconsin bore the brunt of storm damage in the region after being hit Friday night with heavy rain, hail and fierce winds, including possible tornadoes.
The storms, which also pummeled east-central Minnesota, developed after a day of intense heat and humidity.
In the Twin Cities, the day’s high was 95, with a dew point of 80 degrees resulting in a “feels like” heat index of 115 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
That dew point marked the highest one in the metro area since 2011, and it was just 2 degrees below the highest dew point on record.
The sauna-like weather was a potent recipe for severe weather later in the day. Although the Twin Cities metro area was spared, extensive damage was reported in Wisconsin’s Barron and Polk counties.
The worst of it occurred in the area around Turtle Lake, Wis. Outbuildings and roofs were shredded, docks unmoored, and trees and power lines downed, according to eyewitnesses and the Barron County sheriff.
Damage was also reported in Almena, Barron, Cumberland and Chetek, all in Barron County. There were no reports of deaths or injuries.
The NWS reported “hurricane-force winds” in the area, though it was unclear Friday night if they were tornadic or straight-line winds. In Cushing, in Wisconsin’s Polk County, a trained spotter recorded a wind gust of 84 miles per hour, the NWS said. Winds were sustained at 73 mph for five minutes.
Earlier, in east-central Minnesota, wind, rain and hail pounded the areas around Mora and Grasston, where law enforcement officers reported trees, branches and power lines down.
At least one late-afternoon motorist on Interstate 35 north of the Twin Cities had a windshield shattered by baseball-sized hail. Justin Sorensen tweeted a photo of his crunched windshield and reported that he pulled over near the Rock Creek exit, when hail and high winds hit. He was not hurt.
Heavy rain and wind forced the Chisago County Fair in Rush City to close early Friday, said Lyle Holmstrom, president of the fair’s board. “There’s just a lot of standing water, big puddles, but we had to close to assess things,” he said. After some hasty nighttime cleanup, the fair will be ready to roll again Saturday, when gates open at 11 a.m., he said.
In the end, the main weather headache in the metro area was the stunning heat. How hot was it?
It was so hot that the last remaining snow pile at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from the brutal winter of 2018-19 finally melted. A picture of the remaining debris was posted on MSP’s Instagram page, along with the note: “Isn’t it pretty?”
For many Minnesotans, memories of the harsh winter may have been wiped out by Friday’s heat. Here’s a little reminder: Less than six months ago, on Jan. 30, the metro’s low temperature was 28 below zero — 123 degrees cooler than Friday’s high.
According to the NWS, rain is still possible in the Twin Cities on Saturday, but the high will only be in the 70s. Much of next week will be dry, sunny and pleasant, with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s.