Tornadoes, hail, rain hit Minnesota – and more to come

The severe weather brought a mix of hail, tornadoes and heavy rain to Minnesota, causing widespread power outages, flooding and dangerous travel conditions.

Tornado sirens went off across the metro area, including Minneapolis, Wednesday night. Widespread power outages were reported, with around 80,800 Xcel Energy customers without service. Heavy rain flooded streets and parts of highways across the Twin Cities, stalling cars and hydroplaning vehicles.

A National Weather Service warning told people in affected areas to beware of “damaging” winds of up to 80 mph and to take shelter.

In Minneapolis, a flash flood warning was issued and cars were blocked and partially submerged in Minneapolis at 50th Street and Nicollet Avenue, 28th Street and Lyndale Avenue and 42nd Street and 38th Avenue. Flooding at the Mall of America also caused light rail service to be temporarily halted, and Metro Transit temporarily halted Green Line service due to high winds.

Some traffic lights and streetlights were also off in the metropolitan area. The Allianz Field soccer field in St. Paul was also flooded, postponing Wednesday’s game between Minnesota United and Colorado. The Bloomington Fire Department tweeted that firefighters responded to numerous incidents, including removing trees from roads.

Near-record highs of 90 degrees and wet conditions will likely fuel more storms on Thursday, as most of the state faces an increased risk of severe weather – including another possibility of tornadoes, hail and strong winds.

“We expect extreme weather conditions [Thursday] – high winds, large hail and possible tornadoes,” said Melissa Dye, meteorologist with the Weather Service.

Earlier Wednesday, storms dumped more than 3 inches of rain near Waseca, Minn., and hail 1 inch in diameter or larger was reported in Plainview, Kasson, Pine Island, St. Michael and Cottonwood. The largest rocks – 2½ inches in diameter or the size of a tennis ball – fell in Oronoco, just north of Rochester, the weather service said.

Some Xcel Energy customers lost service in the St. Cloud area after morning thunderstorms rolled through Stearns County.

Wednesday’s wild weather came two days after powerful storms knocked down power lines, toppled dozens of trees and damaged buildings in Chisago County and Polk County in western Wisconsin. Residents of Lindstrom, Minn., were still cleaning up damage from Monday’s storms. There was damage throughout Chisago County, the sheriff’s office said.

Behind the thunderstorms, temperatures will drop back into the upper 70s on Friday and the low 70s on Saturday and Sunday.

Editor Vince Tuss contributed to this report.

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