MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Severe storms rolled through central Minnesota Friday, amid a second-straight day of near-tropical humidity.

The National Weather Service said the central part of the state was at the highest level of risk the state has seen this season.

A round of powerful thunderstorms developed in the late afternoon, producing damaging winds, hail as large as baseballs and heavy rain. There were tornado watches and warnings issued, but nothing was reported to have materialized.

Some of the worst damage occurred in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. Cabin owner Anne Weber says it could take weeks to clean up all the downed trees. Her family watched the storm roll in and then ran for shelter. Weber says the roof then caved in and water poured into the cabin.

There have been reports of minor injuries due to the storm. Before blowing into Wisconsin, that storm pounded Minnesota with hail. A giant hailstone smashed through the windshield of a driver on Interstate 35 near Pine City. That hail made for a terrifying drive on I-35 for many people who were just starting their weekend, including Nathan Gross.

“A couple of the pieces were honestly about the size of my fist,” Gross said.

He was making his way up I-35 near Pine City when the storm hit. He pulled over at a nearby gas station to wait it out.

(credit: CBS)

“The lights were flickering, we could hear it on the roof. Honestly, I thought the windows were going to break,” Gross said.

When he went back to his vehicle, he was shocked to see that Mother Nature had targeted his windshield. Just a few miles south, Brittney Rivera was feeling the same pain.

“I looked outside and I couldn’t even see outside,” Rivera said. “Next thing I know, I look out again and I see the semi in my ditch and I’m like, ‘Oh, great.’”

The winds from this storm were so powerful, a box truck was blown off the road right outside her front door. She and her partner Hayden have their own mess to clean up.

“Everything pretty much. I mean, the garage, it’s going to have to be torn down. It’s on top of our roof. I have to climb up there and make sure there’s no water damage. Also it’s on top of my car over there,” she said.

The process to fix all of this will be long, but this family of four is still feeling grateful that they are healthy and here together to pick it all up. This gives you an idea of just how powerful the winds were Friday afternoon.

Photos show trees bent over along Highway 70 in Pine County. Fortunately, that box truck did make it out of the ditch and the driver is OK.

The atmosphere was charged for storms Friday, due in part to the heavy amount of moisture in the air. Dew points in the state climbed into the low 80s in southern Minnesota, where, when combined with air temperatures in the 90s, it felt hotter than 100 degrees outside.

For the second day in a row, excessive heat warning was in effect for southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities. But a welcomed break in the heat and humidity is expected this weekend, with Sunday shaping up to be the most pleasant day in some time.

Mary McGuire

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