Weathering a second night of storms Saturday, Minnesotans cleaned up Friday’s damage on another day of suffocating heat and humidity.
Overnight Friday, storms downed trees, left tens of thousands of homes statewide without power and were blamed for two lightning-ignited house fires in the Twin Cities. Heavy rain fell in many areas, and winds gusted over 70 miles per hour in northwestern and central Minnesota.
After a Saturday that was even hotter and more humid than Friday — at one point, the dew point exceeded 80 in the metro — Duluth and areas to the south were getting walloped by thunderstorms that downed branches and power lines. A line of showers and thunderstorms had begun to form along a cold front stretching from north of the Twin Cities to the western suburbs, the National Weather Service said.
At 10:30 p.m., a tornado warning was in effect in Wisconsin’s Pierce County, and some damage was reported along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border in the Twin Cities. Earlier, a tornado warning was in effect for Anoka County, but it passed without any reports of touchdowns.
The highest risk for severe weather overnight Saturday was expected in areas around St. Cloud and farther south, including the Twin Cities, said meteorologist Chris O’Brien.
Northwestern Minnesota, which got pummeled Friday, was expected to catch a break this time. The metro area, which was relatively off the hook on Friday, was expected to face worse storms overnight, O’Brien said.
Friday’s storms dropped only an inch or so of rain in the metro area, but rain was heavier farther north, with central parts of the state reporting up to 4 inches or more.
That could be welcome in some areas, O’Brien said, because some parts of the state have been dry.
Meteorologist Eric Ahasic offered a reminder that while storms can be dangerous, so can extreme heat and humidity. And while normally people can cool off at a pool or air-conditioned public place, those might not be available due to pandemic precautions.
Still, a spokeswoman for HCMC said that the hospital had not seen heat-related health problems as of Saturday afternoon.
As part of the storm, lightning wreaked havoc overnight Friday. Smoke was reported coming from a house in Eagan about 6 a.m. Saturday, said Fire Chief Mike Scott. Police arrived to find the roof and attic space on fire. The house was unoccupied, with its owners on vacation.
A neighbor’s security camera captured lightning at 3:45 a.m. Smoke rose from the house not long after.
Also around 4 a.m., the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and fire departments from Bayport and Lake Elmo responded to a report of a home on fire in West Lakeland Township, also apparently caused by lightning. “All occupants were evacuated without injury,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
The first part of the coming week should be cooler and drier, with highs in the low 80s, Ahasic said. “Typical for this time of year, but it will feel nice,” he said. “The dew points are much drier as well, only in the 50s — pretty comfortable for summertime in this part of the country.”
However, heat and humidity are expected to make a return visit later in the week. “We’re probably going to see another run into the 90s,” he said. “And muggy.”