A sudden deluge dropping nearly 4 inches of rain on parts of northwest Rochester led to localized street flooding in about 10 places this morning.
Reports of cars stalled in water up to their windows occurred on 19th Street Northwest at 19th Avenue, parts of West River Road and on Seventh Street Northwest just west of 11th Avenue Northwest, among other places, according to police and scanner traffic. In most cases, the waters receded and streets reopened after just a half hour or so of flooding.
"People are just driving where they shouldn't be," said Rochester police Capt. John Sherwin.
The rains even flooded the subway level of the Charlton Building on Mayo Clinic’s campus, Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson said this morning. Patients were redirected elsewhere; it was unclear how long the desk will be closed.
A flash flood warning was issued from near Byron to east of Rochester, but it was lifted by 9 a.m. The weather service showed Cascade Creek in Rochester rising about 5 feet in about an hour but stopping short of flood stage. It was the only station recording a significant rise.
The deluge scored a direct hit on the north side of Rochester. One rain gauge near IBM recorded 3.8 inches of rain; trash barrels put out for the day's pickup floated down streets, often spilling their contents. A homeowner on East Center Street recorded more than 3 inches of rain.
Sarah Aug was driving east on 19th Street Northwest in today's pre-dawn deluge, bringing her 2-year-old son, Miles, to day care when she came to the flooded intersection at 19th Avenue.
"You couldn't see the water until you hit it," she said.
Water washed over her SUV and stalled it. "It came up over both sides of my car, kind of shifted it (around)."
Aug was surprised. "We drive this every day for two years and have never seen it that bad," she said.
Her car later was pushed to the curb, where she tried to get her SUV restarted.
Matthew Huppenbauer also was driving east on 19th Street, heading home after working a night shift. "I was the first car," he said. He knew rain was heavy, but "I thought I could make it," he said.
He didn't; water was about knee deep, he said. He was the first of five vehicles to stall out there. He was able to push his car out of the way.
A few blocks south on Valleyhigh Drive Northwest, several more were stalled in up to 2 feet of water; and on Seventh Street Northwest just west of 11th Avenue Northwest, four more didn't make it through.
The Rochester Fire Department responded to three homes that were struck by lightning during the storm, said Larry Mueller, assistant fire marshal, the most serious one in the 1200 block of Folwell Drive. That strike ignited the electrical system in the house, resulting in charred outlets and window flashing, he said. No injuries were reported.
The storm began to the west, with 0.87 inch at Dodge Center and 2.1 inches recorded at Mantorville before 7 a.m. The helipad at Saint Marys Hospital had 1.34 inches as of 7 a.m., while another west Rochester site had 1.34 inches. U.S. 14 in south Rochester had only 0.35 inch.
There were also reports of trees twisted and toppled on power lines at Eyota and power outages in Rochester. The weather service attributed that damage to straight-line winds.