A survey team from the National Weather Service is in western Minnesota Wednesday surveying damage from strong storms that rolled across the state and into the Twin Cities Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
Along with heavy rains and hail, thunderstorms spun up tornadoes in Big Stone and Stevens counties where weather spotters captured images of funnel clouds and twisters that touched down near Graceville, Hancock and Cyrus. It was not immediately clear if they were the same tornadoes, and assessors were still trying to figure out how strong they were, a spokesman for the weather service said.
It didn’t take a tornado to bring down trees and power lines in the metro. Winds gusting near 60 miles per hour in parts of the Twin Cities brought down power lines, plunging thousands into darkness just two days after an earlier storm left more than 100,000 people without power. On Wednesday morning, as Xcel Energy reported that 23,000 customers did not have electricity, but that number had dropped to just over 5,000 my midday, the utility said.
Downed power lines blocked a portion of Hwy. 3 from Centennial Drive to Hwy. 50 in Farmington Wednesday morning forcing the Minnesota Department of Transportation to close the highway. It reopened just after 8 a.m. Authorities in Carver County also put drivers on detour as downed electrical lines blocked County Road 10 between County Road 30 and Waconia Parkway.
Damage across the metro was not as widespread or severe as it was after Sunday’s storms, but trees 5 inches in diameter were snapped off in Mendota Heights and a few roads were blocked by a thicket of trees and electrical lines near 84th Street and W. Bush Lake Road in Bloomington, the city’s fire department said.
A roof was blown off a pole barn in Prior Lake, the National Weather Service said.
In St. Paul, crews responded to a few calls of trees and big branches down, but there was “no widespread damage,” said Ellen Biales, of the St. Paul Public Works Department, although a few trees were uprooted along Cretin and Summit avenues.
A spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said crews responded to about 50 calls for service, most for downed branches and newly planted trees that were knocked over.
The storms may have lost some of their intensity as they hit the metro just after midnight, but earlier they walloped the western part of the state as they dropped hail 1½ inches in diameter and took down scores of trees, including some 18 inches in diameter near Breckenridge in Wilkin County, the weather service said.
Heavy winds were strong enough to blow four semitrailer trucks on their side on Interstate 94 between Evansville and Rothsay, said Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Minor street flooding was reported in Fergus Falls, the weather service said.
Douglas County appeared to be the hardest hit area. Farm buildings and cabins were damaged on a line from northwest of Garfield to the north side of Lake Miltona. A tree fell on a cabin on Lake Ida and numerous trees were reported down across Miltona and Ida townships, said officer Scot Umlauf of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Rain totals in Douglas County included 3½ inches in Millerville and 2.2 inches near Alexandria. In Kanebec County, more than 2.3 inches of rain fell near Mora, the weather service said.
Humid air continued to hang around the Twin Cities Wednesday, but the threat for severe weather has dropped considerably, the weather service said. Areas of Wisconsin, however, were under watches Wednesday afternoon.
The next chance of storms in the Twin Cities will come over the weekend, the weather service said. Until then, temperatures will be in the 80s Wednesday through Friday under mostly sunny skies, the weather service said.