Storms Leave 165,000 Without Power

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than 100,000 homes were without power Sunday morning after storms lashed central Minnesota and western Wisconsin with heavy rains, hail and strong winds.

Xcel Energy reports that the fast-moving storm, which felled trees and power lines in communities throughout central Minnesota, initially affected 132,000 households, most of which were in the Twin Cites metro and St. Cloud areas.

The utility company says more than 500 people were dispatched Sunday to repair outages, adding that by mid-day 45,000 households had their power restored. Still, around 88,000 households remain without power.

By 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Xcel reported nearly 131,000 customers had their power restored. Around 34,000 households were still without power as of Sunday night.

Xcel said some customers could be without power for multiple days.

The severe weather started overnight in the Dakotas before pushing east into central Minnesota, dumping heavy rain and up to tennis-ball-sized hail. Wind gusts whipped up to 70 mph.

The front edge of the storm system slammed directly against the Twin Cities metro, felling trees and power lines. Cars and homes were hit with debris, and authorities reported fires believed to be caused by lightning strikes.

Streets in many communities were flooded with rainwater. In several places, mounds of hail could be seen floating on the floodwaters like small icebergs. In Coon Rapids, so much hail fell that streets had to be plowed.

Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak says the storm could likely have caused more than $100 million worth of damage in the Twin Cities.

Outside the metro, WCCO viewers sent in images of mangled grain bins and farming equipment. One dairy farm in Pennock, in west-central Minnesota, says the storm destroyed its barns, leaving its cows and heifers homeless.

While the storm moved through Minnesota in just a few hours, it pushed into western Wisconsin, prompting tornado warnings. Just last month, a tornado killed a man at a trailer park in Chetek.

As clean-up and damage assessment gets underway, efforts could be hindered by storms Sunday evening.

The National Weather Service says that afternoon and evening storms could develop, again hitting the metro area and southeastern Minnesota with strong winds and hail.

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