Residents of several counties south of the Twin Cities begin cleaning up late Thursday after fierce storms, including possible tornadoes, damaged structures and downed power lines and trees.
In the metro area, heavy rain flooded some streets and creeks during the windy deluge, which swept eastward through the metro area and other parts of southern Minnesota.
Several homes and businesses were damaged in hard-hit Cannon Falls where downed trees and power lines continued to block streets and school was called off Friday.
School was also called off in Waterville-Elysian-Morristown while classes are being delayed 2 hours in Medford, Faribault and Northfield due to heavy storm damage in those communities.
As many as four tornadoes were reported across southern Minnesota, including near Waterville, Medford, Northfield and just south of Randolph. The twisters or strong winds destroyed the Red Barn Pizza Place in Northfield and caused significant damage at the Stanton Airport 4 miles south of Randolph in Goodhue County, according to National Weather Service storm reports
In parts of southeastern Minnesota, up to 4 inches of rain fell in a short period, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, which expected to have verified rain totals Friday morning. It also announced that it will send “multiple storm survey teams” out Friday to determine the locations and strengths of tornadoes associated with the storms.
Townspeople and rural residents of Rice, Dodge, Faribault and Goodhue counties worked to assess night’s damage by floodlight and flashlight after the weather calmed down after dark.
A Rice County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher said there had been “significant” damage reported. “Big trees down, damages to propane tanks, damage to homes, minor injuries,” he said.
Several small planes parked at the Faribault Municipal Airport were damaged when they were tossed around by high winds, he said. In the tiny town of Morristown, a curfew was put into effect until 6:30 a.m. Friday, with no one allowed outside their homes and residents only allowed to enter town.
Benjamin Percy, a writer who lives in Northfield, posted on his Facebook page that his neighborhood was “trashed” by an apparent tornado. “Countless trees [are] down, including one that impaled our roof,” he wrote. “No power. Two days of chainsawing ahead of us. Hope my fellow Northfielders are all right.”
In Goodhue County, first responders cautioned motorists to avoid the town of Cannon Falls entirely because of downed power lines.
Tornado touchdowns were reported in Faribault and Waterville, Minn., and in Ellsworth, Wis.
Earlier in the evening, Martin County, in far south-central Minnesota, also reported significant storm damage.
Homes were surrounded by debris in tiny towns like Granada, Minn., where all roads were closed for 24 hours except to local traffic. A makeshift shelter in the school gym welcomed displaced residents, and the Red Cross handed out supplies. Homeowners in nearby Fairmont were warned to brace for extended power outages.
Metro area streets flood
In the metro area, heavy rain fell through the afternoon and evening, slowing traffic to a crawl and flooding streets.
Residents posted photos on social media of families wading and canoeing on streets, including the intersection of 39th Street and Longfellow Avenue S., near Sibley Park.
In the northwest metro, Hwy. 100 was slowgoing due to huge puddles, and the ramp from southbound 100 to County Road 81 was closed. Lake Drive, which cuts east-west through Robbinsdale, was significantly flooded.
Xcel Energy reported many power failures across the Twin Cities and in the storm-struck towns to the south.
The heavy rain hit the north metro and beyond, too. In Chisago County, flooding closed Hwy. 95 at Chisago Street, among other roads in Taylors Falls, according to the Sheriff’s Office and MnDOT.
Clouds and storms are expected to clear out Friday, with clear skies and cool temperatures moving in. After a windy high of 56 degrees on Friday, the sun will stay out Saturday with a high of 64 degrees, and on Sunday with a high of almost 70 degrees.
The next chance of rain comes Monday, along with a high of 71 degrees, the Weather Service said.
Staff writers Aaron Lavinsky and Pamela Miller contributed to this report.