Midwest Storms: Hail, Flooding, High Winds Wreak Havoc from Iowa to Pennsylvania; Tornado Hits South Dakota Town

June 19, 2014

In what has been a week of severe weather for millions across the Plains and Midwest, more storms started to develop Thursday.

Torrential rain caused flash flooding in parts of Minneapolis-St. Paul on Thursday morning, flooding streets around the Mall of America, according to the Star Tribune.

(MORE: How to Stay Safe During Severe Weather)

A powerful line of thunderstorms rolled through the Midwest and Great Lakes region Wednesday, flooding roads and damaging several homes and businesses. The line spawned a tornado in southeast South Dakota on Wednesday night.

Here's a roundup of some of the most significant damage reports from across the region:

Indiana

Authorities in northern Indiana responded to numerous reports of trees and limbs down on houses and cars after a severe thunderstorm storm with winds of up to 65 mph passed Wednesday afternoon, but there were no immediate reports of significant injuries or damage.

Media reported a woman in Osceola, 10 miles east of South Bend, was taken to Elkhart General Hospital complaining of neck and back pain after a tree fell on the vehicle she was driving. The weather service says trees were reported down from South Bend all the way to the Ohio state line. There also were some isolated reports of half-inch sized hail.

Indiana Michigan Power Co. reported more than 5,000 customers in DeKalb, Elkhart, St. Joseph and Allen counties were without power Wednesday evening.

(FORECAST: Severe Weather Tracker)

Iowa

Several cities in northwest Iowa dealt Wednesday with the fallout of the worst flooding they've ever seen while others downstream on the Rock, Big Sioux and Missouri rivers were bracing for the high water to surge above flood stage, some to record high crests.

Rock Rapids, which has 3,000 residents 32 miles southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, lost its water supply Tuesday when the treatment plan was overrun by river water. But Mayor Jason Chase said the system is back online and he's awaiting results from tests to ensure the water is safe to drink again.

(WATCH: The Little Town Too Tough to Die)

About 60 homes have had water waist deep or higher in them, Chase said, and many have shifted from their foundations or have damaged basement walls.

Officials in North Sioux City, South Dakota, and Sioux City, Iowa, plan to close floodgates on the large earthen levee that protects both cities from Big Sioux floodwaters, the Sioux City Journal reported.

"We're definitely preparing for the worst," North Sioux City economic development director Kory Menken told the newspaper.

Michigan

A fresh wave of severe thunderstorms has moved across Michigan, knocking out power to at least 65,500 homes and businesses and bringing heavy rains that caused road flooding.

DTE Energy Co. says at least 40,000 of its customers lost power, while CMS Energy Corp. reports about 22,000 blackouts and Lansing Board of Water & Light about 3,500. Most are expected to have power back by sometime Thursday.

Wednesday's storms knocked down trees and power lines and flooded roads. The National Weather service reports an 81 mile-per-hour wind gust at Adrian and says 1.71 inches of water fell in Washtenaw County near Ann Arbor in one 4-hour span.

They came a day after a funnel cloud briefly touched down in Iosco County in the northern Lower Peninsula, damaging buildings and vehicles.

Minnesota

Rain continues to drench southern Minnesota, flooding streets in Mankato and causing mudslides that forced the closure of some highways.

The National Weather Service reported around 5 inches of rain overnight in the Mankato area, which overwhelmed the city's storm sewer system. Outside of Mankato, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reopened U.S. Highway 169 Wednesday morning after a two-hour closure due to flash flooding. Also, Minnesota Highway 66 was blocked by mudslides between Mankato and Rapidan.

"There's major flooding in the Rapidan area," said area resident Jean Lundquist, who detoured through the town to get to work. "There are whole fields under water. Houses in town that are sitting in water. Cars parked in driveways sitting in water up to the bottom of the car. Streets have been flooded over."

Since last weekend, successive rounds of thunderstorms have caused rapid rises on the Minnesota River in Mankato, the Cottonwood River in New Ulm and numerous smaller streams. City crews inspected Mankato's flood walls in preparation for the Minnesota River reaching flood stage, city spokeswoman Edell Fiedler said. The river was about 3 feet below flood stage around midday.

The storms have soaked farm fields in southern Minnesota with nearly a foot of precipitation in some places and pelted them with hail, raising concerns about potential crop damage. More rain, hail and wind are forecast through this coming weekend.

"When you get these continuous rains, most of the fields are totally saturated," MinnStar Bank farm management analyst Kent Thiesse said.

Early estimates say nearly half the 250,000 tillable acres of crops in Rock County alone have been damaged by flooding, reports the Star Tribune.

Ohio

Strong storms that have rolled through Ohio downed trees, flooded roads and left thousands without power.

High winds associated with the Wednesday night storms blew off part of the roof of a high school gym in Geauga County in northeast Ohio. Downed tree limbs and water on roadways were being reported early Thursday throughout central and northeast Ohio after a night of dramatic thunder and lightning strikes.

(MORE: How You Can Help the Victims of the Pilger Tornado)

More than 10,000 customers were without power in northeast Ohio, and nearly 15,000 in central Ohio before dawn Thursday.

The Wednesday night storms came as residents of Summit and Stark counties in northeast Ohio were dealing with widespread flooding from heavy rain earlier in the week.

Pennsylvania

Officials say lightning is being investigated as the possible cause of a number of fires as storms rolled through southeastern Pennsylvania overnight, bringing drenching rains and bringing down trees and power lines.

Bucks County emergency dispatchers told WCAU-TV that a lightning bolt hit the chimney of a Doylestown home at about 3 a.m. Thursday, sending bricks and mortar around the home and into the street. No injuries were reported.

The fire chief in Trumbauersville told the station that the fire marshal will try to determine whether lightning sparked a garage fire. Winds also uprooted two trees and sent them crashing into the garage, breaking off part of the roof.

Officials said lightning is also suspected in a blaze that consumed an abandoned home in Chester County's Highland Township.

South Dakota

A tornado hit a small town in central South Dakota on Wednesday night, damaging homes, destroying several businesses and injuring one person, according to the National Weather Service and local officials.

The tornado was confirmed Thursday afternoon as an EF2, packing winds as high as 127 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Dedrich Koch, a county prosecutor who serves as a spokesman for the city during emergency operations, said late Wednesday night that everyone in town had been accounted for.

Koch said the tornado alarms in the city sounded several times and allowed residents to head to the city's emergency shelter that is located in the basement of the courthouse. He said three businesses were destroyed and 11 or 12 houses are inhabitable.

"Right now we are securing areas and keeping people from going in out the damaged areas," Koch said. "We'll assess damage and cleanup in the morning when we get some light."

(MORE: Snowing ... in June?)

Among the businesses destroyed were the American Legion, a bar and an auto dealer, and several farms were damaged.

Lindsey Meyers, spokeswoman for Avera Health, which operates the hospital in Wessington Springs, said one patient in good condition is being treated as a result of the tornado.

Meyers said the hospital has some broken windows and is operating on backup power.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard issued a statement saying that he deployed 100 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and equipment to Wessington Springs. Daugaard arrived in the town, which is about 125 miles northwest of Sioux Falls and has a population of about 1,000, late Wednesday.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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