NEW LONDON — Power was out for about 16 hours in several west central Minnesota communities, including New London and Spicer, following a fast-moving storm that hit the area Monday night delivering high winds, hail and heavy rainfall.
At least 2,570 Xcel Energy customers were affected by the outage in Kandiyohi County in a string of outages that stretched from Fargo, North Dakota, to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
“Apparently some strong winds came through and took some major transmission lines down, which threw out some different fuses and (automatic circuit) reclosers,” said Pat Schaumann, from Xcel Energy’s office in St. Cloud.
Schaumann, who was coordinating repair crews in New London, said strong winds took down the main lines and “everything just kind of fell apart after that with more wind and branches falling.”
According to the National Weather Service, the storm produced numerous wind damage reports and an EF-1 tornado west of the Twin Cities. The report said most of the downburst wind damage reports were from tree damage along the Interstate 94 corridor.
The storm also seemed to track along state Highway 23, hitting Spicer, New London, Paynesville, Richmond and St. Cloud, where outages were still being reported late Tuesday afternoon by Xcel.
The Weather Service fielded a report of hail in New London with a 1.75 inch diameter.
Outages there began around 9:30 p.m. Monday and power was restored around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Most of the businesses in New London and Spicer were closed Tuesday, including the clinic in New London and Prairie Meadows Learning Center in Spicer, where preschool classes were cancelled on the first day of school.
The NLS elementary school, middle school and high school get their power from the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative and were functioning at full capacity.
Posts on social media indicated that families struggled to get their kids ready for the first day of school without having power in the house.
Businesses that had their own generators were able to stay in business.
Because the outage meant sewage lift stations weren’t functioning, city crews in New London and Spicer manually pumped sewage from lift stations by using septic trucks.
Residents were asked to reduce water usage to ease the pressure on the system.
New London City Administrator Trudie Guptill said the schools opted to serve meals using paper plates to reduce the amount of water needed to wash dishes.
Spicer City Administrator Leslie Valiant said there was limited tree damage in Spicer and the city maintained services throughout the day despite the outage.
There were more reports of tree damage north of New London.
Matt Lindstrom, media relations representative with Xcel, said about 90 percent of the outages had been restored within 10 to 12 hours and that more than 100 crews made up of more than 350 workers and contractors were “working to get the lights back on in the state.”