78 mph winds, funnel clouds, hail, lightning and rain all fuel storm front that moved across region
WILLMAR -- Cleanup from Sunday's round of severe weather began while the storm was still moving across west central Minnesota and continued Monday as crews cleared fallen branches, righted power lines and restored electricity to utility customers.
The storm produced winds up to 78 mph, funnel clouds, hail and lightning, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. The service says between 2 to 4 inches of rain fell across the region.
Power remained out Monday in many areas, with some customers not still expected to be without power today. Crews from the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative began responding to calls at 9 p.m. Sunday, worked through the night and were still working Monday afternoon to get services back on line.
"The guys are working hard. We have a lot of outages," said Robin Ryks, with Kandiyohi Power Cooperative.
The Meeker Cooperative said more than 30 power poles were lost and numerous lines downed because of wind and falling trees. Power was affected in five substations, with the one in Atwater hit the hardest.
Several crews were working on rebuilding the power lines and the transmission companies were working on rebuilding the transmission structures to restore power, according to a statement posted on the Meeker Cooperative website, which said some Atwater residents may not have power until this afternoon.
Customers were being asked to have patience.
Trees and power lines appeared to take the brunt of the storm, with farm buildings and some homes also damaged.
Emergency personnel were eager to report there were no injuries.
"Considering the widespread winds we had and funnels, we did very well. Nobody was hurt," said Kandiyohi County Emergency Management Director Don Ericson.
The western and northwestern portions of Meeker County were hit hard with severe damage around Grove City. At least 14 buildings were damaged, including six turkey barns, sheds, grain bins and one residence with extensive roof damage.
"It was all hands on deck last night," said Meeker County Chief Deputy Sheriff Brad Lindgren. "Grove City is going to be the poster child."
The athletic fields at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City High School were damaged in the storm. Football bleachers were flipped over onto the field and a dugout was damaged on the baseball field at ACGC High School in Grove City. (For more, please see Page B3)
A section of State Highway 4 in Meeker County was shut down by Minnesota Department of Transportation officials, according to the sheriff's department.
Meanwhile MnDOT crews used snowplows to move numerous branches from state Highway 12 in Atwater.
The roof of a shed at the Central Lakes Cooperative just outside of Atwater was torn off and a turkey barn on Highway 12 was damaged, according to Ericson, who spent Monday morning touring the county to survey damage.
Trees and downed power lines combined to block some roads but structural damage to buildings was minimal.
"Considering the potential of the storm, we came out very nicely on it," said Ericson. "It could be worse."
The storm created a lightening show that lasted for hours Sunday. For some, however, the show was more like a horror movie.
Roy Vega, of Grove City, was three miles out of town when the storm hit Sunday. He said the rain and wind pounded so hard his car started rocking.
"If I didn't put my hand on the window, it would have caved in," he said. "We thought we were going to lose our lives."
Vega made it home safely but his yard was full of fallen trees and branches. He woke up at 6 a.m. to start cleaning up.
When the storm hit and the sirens sounded, Roger Power of Atwater said he grabbed his dogs and went in the basement. It wasn't long before he heard a boom and discovered a fallen tree on his house, which had roof and gutter damage.
In between cleaning up the mess and buying a generator Monday to compensate for the power outage, Power was trying to contact his insurance company to figure out what to do next.
Straight line winds clocked at 78 mph Sunday at Appleton Airport knocked down power lines, tore open a machine shed on a farm place north of the community, and twisted the foundation for a grain dryer, snapping the liquid propane line to it.
Three or four thunderstorm cells rumbled through Swift County, Sheriff John Holtz said. The third cell, and either a fourth cell or a hook on the third, caused much of the damage.
No one was injured, but the winds and heavy rains knocked down and uprooted trees.
Five Ottertail Power poles along Minnesota Highway 7 just north of Appleton were toppled, knocking out power to rural areas and about ¼ of Appleton for two to three hours.
The sheriff was following a second storm cell as it tore through the county west to east, watching constant churning in the clouds. He said two different funnels dropped from the storm on fields between Murdock and Kerkhoven, but no buildings were damaged.
There was also a report of a funnel cloud south of Appleton.
The sheriff said a deputy watched as winds rifled a piece of wood the size of a dog house right by his squad car. Another piece of debris struck and shattered the squad's rear window.
Drenching, wind-driven rains pounded fields across the county, with some areas reporting 6 to 7 inches of rain.
In Lac qui Parle County, the winds tore metal roofing off a portion of a building in Madison, and snapped small tree branches in town, according to Sheriff Rick Halvorson.
There were also reports of heavy, localized rains in some fields, but no reports of hail.
Chippewa County also saw reports of localized, heavy rains and strong winds, but no major storm damage was reported, according to the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department.