The first major thunderstorm of the season swept through the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota Tuesday night, flooding streets, snapping power lines and trees, and sending residents into their basements as tornado sirens wailed.
Hail as large as pingpong balls also pelted the region.
“Now we’re officially in summer,” said Brent Hewett, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Chanhassen office.
After a historically cold and wet spring in Minnesota, Tuesday’s storm added more rainfall to already overflowing rivers and lakes.
Cities such as Lakeville were hit hard because of how quickly the rain fell, dropping an inch to 1 ½ inches of rain in about an hour.
Within less than two hours, police in the southern Twin Cities suburb were scrambling to respond to storm-related calls: Flooded roads, nearly a dozen cars submerged or stranded in water, and three house fires likely caused by lightning.
“It was chaotic. We were getting calls left and right,” police Sgt. Sandy Thoeny said.
She said some drivers explained that they got stuck because it was raining so hard they couldn’t see how deep the water was on the roadways.
“And human nature — people just want to get home,” she said, adding that officials remind motorists not to drive through any standing water.
Dodd Boulevard between 194th Street and County Road 50 reopened after being closed much of Tuesday night because of the flooding.
The NWS issued tornado warnings for the south metro and Red Wing, but both warnings expired without confirmed reports of a tornado. Wind gusts of 50 to 85 mph were reported across the south metro and southern Minnesota.
Several downed trees were spotted in North Mankato, and damaged power lines were reported in Gaylord, Winthrop and Buffalo Lake.
The large hail was reported in Dodge County along with nearly 2 inches of rain.
About 50 flights in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were delayed or diverted Tuesday evening. And about 5,000 Xcel Energy customers in the metro area and southern Minnesota were without power Tuesday night
No major injuries or deaths from the storm were reported by law enforcement agencies as of Tuesday night.
But a calm weather reprieve is in sight: The NWS said Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be sunny and dry, helping communities hit hardest by Tuesday’s storm assess the damage and dry out.