Thousands remain without power in wake of Wednesday night's storms

More severe storms possible across Minnesota today

A downed tree cuts through a home
A tree knocked down by severe storms the previous night cuts through a home in Coon Rapids, Minn., on Thursday morning. The storms brought wind gusts in excess of 70 mph to the Twin Cities metro area.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: 3:05 p.m.

Thousands of homes and businesses remained without power across southern Minnesota on Thursday morning, in the wake of severe storms that brought damaging winds, flooding rain, hail and a few reports of possible tornadoes.

The storms were responsible for at least one death — a woman who died in a crash caused by downed power lines along Interstate 90 near Worthington.

More strong storms were moving across parts of Minnesota as of midday Thursday — and more widespread severe weather is possible across much of the state later Thursday afternoon and evening.

Fatal crash on Interstate 90

The Minnesota State Patrol said a 30-year-old woman died and four other people were injured in the crash on I-90 in Nobles County, east of Worthington.

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The patrol said severe storms knocked power lines across the freeway just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. An eastbound car stopped to avoid hitting the wires and was struck by a semi, also traveling east.

A passenger in the car, identified as Martha Lilian Llanos Rodriguez of Mexico City, died at the scene. One passenger, 42-year-old Bradford Scott Barrett, has life-threatening injuries. A spokesperson with the Air Force Research Laboratory confirmed Barrett is an employee at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The driver and two other passengers have injuries that are not considered life threatening.

Social media posts from Wednesday indicated they were meteorologists who were in the region to observe the severe weather.

The driver of a third vehicle also was injured after hit the downed wires.

Lightning streaks across the sky
Lightning streaks across the sky as severe storms roll through the Twin Cities metro area on Wednesday night.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Power outages

Xcel Energy reported about 21,000 customers still without power as of 12:55 p.m. Thursday in its Minnesota service area, most of those in the Twin Cities metro area. That's down from more than 75,000 late Wednesday night. Other utilities also responded to widespread power outages overnight.

“Hundreds of employees and contractors are in the field restoring power today and that number will increase to 700 this afternoon as additional storms move through this evening,” Xcel said in a statement late Thursday morning.

In addition to knocking down power lines, wind gusts of nearly 80 mph also sent trees onto cars and buildings around the Twin Cities — with one large fallen tree cutting through the middle of a home in Coon Rapids.

The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday afternoon that a tornado touched down in Coon Rapids at 8:27 p.m. Wednesday. A damage survey concluded the tornado was an EF-0, or a zero on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with maximum winds of 80 mph, a width of about 50 yards and a path of about 3 miles.

The strong winds knocked down the entry doors at a Target store in Roseville, according to a report received by the National Weather Service.

A downed tree sits atop a home and a wheelchair ramp
A downed tree sits atop a home and a wheelchair ramp in north Minneapolis on Thursday, after severe storms moved through the night before.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Weather spotters also reported damage to some structures in Madelia, including the roof being ripped off of a building under construction. Damage to outbuildings was noted in the Sanborn and Buffalo Lake areas.

The Weather Service reported wind gusts as high as 79 mph at Morristown, 77 mph near Shakopee and 76 mph near Windom. There were reports of gusts in excess of 60 mph at Eden Prairie, Anoka, Hopkins and Roseville; Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recorded a peak wind gust of 61 mph.

Heavy rain causes flooding

Torrential rain Wednesday night flooded some streets and highways in the metro area, with several reports of vehicles stranded in the flash flooding. Street flooding and sewer backups also were reported in the Hutchinson area. The storms also brought hailstones larger than golf balls to Shakopee.

And spotters also reported several tornado sightings as the volatile storms raced across — one near New Ulm, and three others in Cottonwood County, west of Windom. There were no immediate reports of damage from those possible tornadoes in southwest Minnesota.

The National Weather Service’s Twin Cities office reported Thursday morning that those sightings had not been confirmed — and it was not planning to send out survey teams.

Tornado warnings sounded across much of the Twin Cities on Wednesday night, but there were no reports of tornado touchdowns in the metro area.

The Weather Service says there is an elevated risk for severe storms across much of Minnesota on Thursday — with some storms already rumbling in western parts of the state, and more storms expected Thursday afternoon and evening.

Any additional rainfall could cause more flooding across northern Minnesota, where rivers are still running high in the wake of recent rain and snowmelt. A flood watch is in effect from the Red River Valley east to Duluth and the North Shore.

Find forecast updates on MPR Weather’s Updraft blog.

MPR News’ Peter Cox contributed to this report.