Stormy weather swept through the Twin Cities and other parts of southern Minnesota on a sultry Saturday, bringing down trees and branches, sparking several structure fires and raising worries about flooding.

The skies grew eerily dark, and heavy rain, hail, lightning and strong winds swept across the area in late morning and early afternoon. Winds gusted up to 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

Minor structure and tree damage occurred across the region, but no injuries were reported.

Bloomington, scheduled to host a firetruck parade and display in celebration of the fire department’s 100-year anniversary, delayed its festivities because of the weather.

Firefighters put out at least three blazes in Bloomington that may have been set by lightning — one on Harriet Avenue, another on W. 111th Street and a third on Countryside Drive. Another house fire sparked by lightning was reported in Edina.

West of the Twin Cities, in the small Renville County town of Sacred Heart, the steeple at Hawk Creek Lutheran Church was set afire and toppled by a lightning strike.

The storm contributed to traffic slowdowns around the Twin Cities, where major thoroughfares such as Interstate 94 and Hwy. 100 were closed at key stretches because of construction projects.

In downtown Minneapolis, lines of people waiting to tour the new U.S. Bank Stadium were hurried into the structure regardless of their ticket entry times during late-morning downpours.

Early Saturday evening, in the wake of the heavy rain, a flash flood warning was in effect for a broad swath of communities in the northwestern Twin Cities, including parts of Hennepin, Anoka, Washington and Chisago counties. The warning expired at 6:30 p.m. Another round of severe storms had been predicted for Saturday night, but that forecast was dialed down by midevening, when sun slipped through the clouds.

Minneapolis Aquatennial events unfolded as scheduled throughout the afternoon, with organizers monitoring weather updates. By nightfall, all uncertainty had passed, and fireworks went off right on time at 10 p.m. Saturday.

The rain wrapped up overnight Saturday. Sunday will be hot but less humid, with mostly sunny skies and a high near 87, according to the Weather Service. Monday, too, will be dry and sunny, with a high near 86.

Showers may return Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but daytime highs will remain in the 80s, with nighttime lows in the 60s. That rainfall is not expected to be accompanied by severe conditions, the Weather Service said.

Up North, more cleanup

Meanwhile, cleanup from violent thunderstorms that struck Thursday continued in Duluth and other parts of northern Minnesota.

Crews were still working Saturday to restore power to many homes in the Duluth area, according to Minnesota Power’s online outage map.

Thursday’s storms, which carried hurricane-force winds and driving rain, caused two deaths in Quetico Provincial Park on the Minnesota-Canada border. Killed when a tree fell on their tent were Christian Sanchez, 13, of Lewisville, Texas, and Rorth Lac, 39, of Carrollton, Texas. The two were part of a group of nine people camping on the Canadian side of Basswood Lake.

 

Staff writer Pamela Miller contributed to this report.