Monday, March 27

One killed as severe storms cause widespread damage across western Minnesota

Cleanup efforts are underway across western Minnesota Friday after more storms packing high winds knocked out power and damaged buildings.

The hardest hit area Thursday was western Minnesota.

One person died when a grain bin fell onto a car and killed a passenger inside in the area of 45th Street SE. just south of 165 Avenue SE. near the town of Blomkest, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office said. Few other details were available, and a dispatcher said no information would be immediately released.

In Stevens County, winds approaching 70 mph felled grain silos and pushed down storage sheds near Alberta. Not far away in Morris, the strong winds snapped power poles, felled trees and knocked down antennas at the city’s municipal airport. Some hangars also were damaged, the National Weather Service said.

The storms Thursday afternoon and evening left behind lots of debris throughout the county, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

Some schools delayed starts or switched to an at-home learning day Friday due to power outages, including Alexandria, Benson, Dawson-Boyd, Lynd, Morris, Parkers Prairie, and Wadena-Deer Creek.

Thursday’s storms made for difficult travel. Eastbound Interstate 94 was closed for several hours Thursday night after overturned semis blocked the freeway near Alexandria. The freeway is open Friday, the State Patrol said.

It was not immediately clear if tornadoes caused any of Thursday’s damage, but there were initial reports of other touchdowns, the Weather Service said. A Cass County dispatcher said law enforcement was trying to confirm reports of a tornado touchdown in that county, and that lots of trees were down.

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The metro area missed the brunt of Thursday’s storms, but there was plenty of destruction the night before. A tornado touched down at 8:27 p.m. in the northeastern part of Coon Rapids Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. The Weather Service’s Twin Cities office said the tornado, with winds reaching 80 mph, was 50 yards across and cut a path of damage 3 miles long.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. A Coon Rapids city official said the worst-known damage was a tree that fell into a house, cleaving it in two but leaving two occupants and their four dogs uninjured.

It was the kind of storm “we hope we don’t see again,” said Chris O’Brien with the Weather Service.

Coon Rapids appeared to be the worst-hit in Anoka County, according to Tierney Peters with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. But trees were down elsewhere across the metro, and power outages affected tens of thousands of customers.

On Friday, just a few thousand Xcel Energy customers, most in the west metro, were still without electricity. That is down from nearly 80,000 during the peak of the storm Wednesday.

In the east metro, no serious damage was reported, but some trees were down, said Laura Perkins with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Large trees were reported down in Brooklyn Park, where city crews on Thursday fanned out to remove the tree debris, some of it blocking traffic in places. High water caused some motorists to be stranded near the Rosedale Center mall in Roseville, authorities said.

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Winds topped out at 77 mph in Shakopee Wednesday night and clocked in at 60 mph or greater at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Hopkins, Anoka, Eden Prairie and Roseville, where the front doors of a Target store were blown out.

Hail 1 inch in diameter was reported in Woodbury and Newport, the Weather Service said.

In Minneapolis, a flash flood warning was issued and cars were stalled and partly submerged at 50th Street and Nicollet Avenue, 28th Street and Lyndale Avenue and 42nd Street and 38th Avenue. Flooding at the Mall of America also caused the light rail to temporarily stop service, and Metro Transit temporarily halted Green Line service because of high winds.

In southern Minnesota, possible tornadoes were reported near Pillager and Vining, but none have been confirmed. On Thursday afternoon, storms dumped rain and hail across many parts of the state with 3 inches of rain reported in Delano, Rockford, Avon, Clara City and Willmar. Rainfall in excess of 4 inches was reported in Danube, Wood Lake, Annandale and Watkins, Minn., the Weather Service said.

The Twin Cities set a temperature record for May 12 when the mercury hit 92 degrees, the Weather Service said.

The weather will be much calmer and less humid for this weekend’s Fishing Opener. Highs in southern Minnesota will be in the upper 70s on Friday and low 70s Saturday and Sunday.

“We will be back to spring,” O’Brien said.

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