Street Flooding

A vehicle drives through minor flooding on 11th Avenue Northeast at Second Street in Rochester after a thunderstorm dumped heavy rain on the area Thursday. (Andrew Link /

AUSTIN — A closed interstate and chunks of Rochester gone black were among the ugly aftermath to widespread storms on Thursday. 

According to Tony Benson, communications coordinator for Rochester Public Utilities, a total of 9,999 RPU customers were affected by outage events on Thursday afternoon and evening.

He said outages extended to all parts of Rochester, but the majority of disruption happened on the eastern part of the city. 

"If I had to pinpoint an area, it was the east point of town," Benson said. 

He said RPU was not aware of any injuries or fires that resulted from the outages, and that lightning and wind were likely the causes.

Benson said that as of 9 a.m Friday, all power had been restored to customers. 

I-90 closed

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced just after 3:30 p.m. Thursday that Interstate 90 at Austin was shut down and detoured due to flooding from the heavy rains.

The closed section of I-90 reopened four hours later, after crews cleaned and inspected the road to ensure its safety.

MnDOT urges motorists who must drive in poor weather to always turn their headlights on and check for incident reports, traffic cameras and road conditions before heading out.

Damp outlook and look back

According to Bill Endersen of Minnesota Public Radio, a "strengthening swirl of low pressure triggered numerous showers and thunderstorms" in southern Minnesota Thursday.

The National Weather Service in La Crosse issued a tornado watch until 10 p.m. for southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa after a substantial amount of spin in the atmosphere was picked up, said Endersen. The watch was lifted early for parts of Minnesota as storms went deeper into Wisconsin.

A total of 2.58 inches of rainfall was recorded Thursday at the Rochester International Airport, while nearly 3 inches of rain fell in two other parts of Rochester.

Wabasha and Plainview received more than 2 inches of rain, and Dobbins Creek in Mower County recorded a whopping 4.18 inches of rainfall Thursday. Parts of Winona County also experienced 2-3 inches of rain in 24 hours.