High winds rake across SW Minn., reach Twin Cities
- Article by: STEVE KARNOWSKI
- Associated Press
- June 21, 2013 - 10:50 PM
MINNEAPOLIS — Another round of heavy rain and high winds swept into the Twin Cities Friday night, less than 24 hours after damaging winds and heavy rain uprooted trees and knocked out power to more than 157,000 Xcel Energy customers.
Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage said he saw "quite a few large trees down" as he surveyed damage from the latest storm.
"Almost everywhere I've driven has been out of power," Waage said. He said he had not received any reports of injuries.
A wind gust of 57 mph knocked out power to the emergency operations center in Medina in the western metro, Waage said. The generator kicked on.
Xcel Energy reported more than 59,000 customers without power in the Twin Cities Friday night.
Near Maple Plain, a trained spotter reported 2.2 inches of rain fell in a half-hour, the National Weather Service said. Street flooding was reported in Robbinsdale and Maple Grove.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for eastern Hennepin County, northwestern Dakota County, Ramsey County and southeastern Anoka County until 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
The winds and rain blew into the metro area Friday evening after raking across central Minnesota. A wind gust measuring 69 mph was reported just before 8 p.m. in Crystal in the northern Twin Cities, the weather service said.
Amanda Viacara, bar manager at Chino Latino restaurant in the Uptown area of south Minneapolis, said the sky darkened and "the winds started coming in sideways." She said the rain "was moving from side to side," sending "a lot of people scurrying for cover."
"We had a lot of people that just decided to sit and relax and enjoy the inside (of the restaurant)," Viacara said. "They decided not to go to their cars."
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for roughly the southwest quarter of Minnesota through 10 p.m. Friday, extending as far east as the outer Minneapolis suburbs. Flash flood watches crisscross much of Minnesota because of the high potential for more heavy rain across already-soaked areas.
In southwestern Minnesota, a trained spotter sighted a tornado northwest of Tracy around 5:15 p.m. Friday, the weather service said. But the Lyon County sheriff's office had received no reports of damage or injuries.
A wind gust of 67 mph was reported a mile north of Lake Benton in Lincoln County at 4:40 p.m. Hail measuring 1.75 inches was reported in Minnesota and Marshall in Lyon County.
Forecasters expected the second round of severe weather to track a little south of the area struck by storms early Friday, but many locations hit in the earlier round including the Twin Cities are likely to get a repeat, said Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist with the weather service in Chanhassen.
"Just a very dangerous night ahead because of the flash flooding and severe weather potential. ... People need to heed the warnings," he said.
The weather service said the line of storms that raced southeastward across Minnesota and western Wisconsin early Friday had a bow-shaped signature on radar, often known as a "bow echo." These storm complexes are often capable of producing very strong straight-line winds across a large area — and they did.
Winds were measured at 85 mph about 1:30 a.m. in the western Minnesota city of Benson, which the weather service said was equivalent to a low-end EF0 tornado. Winds in the 50-60 mph range were common from western and central Minnesota into the Twin Cities area.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy said about 44,000 of its customers from central Minnesota into western Wisconsin were still without power by 4:30 p.m. Friday, down from a peak of more than 157,000.
With the high winds came heavy rain, as much as 5.6 inches at Morris in western Minnesota. The torrential flooding caused widespread temporary street flooding. Meteorologist Chris Franks said streets flooded in Morris, Glenwood and Starbuck because storm drains just couldn't handle the volume.
Lightning was blamed for a fire that destroyed a home in Minnetonka and one unit of a duplex in Eden Prairie.
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