Farm south of Austin hit by high winds
GRAFTON, Iowa -— Until Wednesday, fierce weather had never damaged Don Patrick's 200-acre property in the 50 years he's lived on it.
On Wednesday, he was home, closing the windows on his house when the weather showed up near Grafton, about a half hour south of Austin.
Patrick lost five ash trees and a 55-foot-by- 90-foot machine shed. Inside was equipment that included a loader, a mower and a corn planter, but they were untouched by the force, he said. The farm also lost power when the weather hit around 10 a.m. Power was restored later in the day, Patrick said.
"It was just like a wall of rain came, and then everything started going around and around," he said.
It appeared to be the most damage recorded in the region on a day when weather forecasters were predicting potential tornadoes, damaging winds and hail.
Mower County was under a tornado and severe thunderstorm into Wednesday evening, but the rest of the week's weather appears less threatening.
Temperatures had climbed to a high of 91 in the late afternoon, with dew points in the mid- to upper 70s. This combination resulted in heat index readings of more than 100 degrees.
Repeated warnings about storms Wednesday appeared to have been unfounded by about 6 p.m., leading some forecasters to believe the area might be in the clear.
However, at 7:24 p.m., the National Weather Service suddenly posted a severe thunderstorm warning for counties in southeastern Minnesota and reported that a thunderstorm was moving east through the Owatonna area at 35 mph.
Dodge County was deluged with rain and winds of up to 60 mph. Reports of cloud rotation in Dodge and Olmsted counties followed, with at least one funnel cloud reported by a trained weather spotter northwest of the Oronoco area. No tornado touchdowns were reported.
As the storm reached Rochester about 7:45 p.m., heavy rains and winds moved through, complete with lightning and rolling thunder. At least one house was struck by lighting. Hail was reported in northwest Rochester, and at least one large power outage occurred.
About one inch of rain fell in Rochester overnight and one observer reported wind speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, but the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office said little damage was reported.
The storm carried its own signature — an eerie orange afterglow.
A tornado watch initially issued in the afternoon was extended through 1 a.m. today for Olmsted, Dodge, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Dispatchers in Dodge, Houston and Wabasha counties said this morning that only a few trees and branches were downed by the storm. None had heard of any significant damage to homes or buildings.
An earlier storm that passed about four miles north of Northfield caused a semi-trailer to overturn and temporarily block both lanes of Minnesota Highway 47.
Dakota County deputies received unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds and high winds in
that area, but authorities could not determine if the overturned semi-trailer was the result of a tornado or straight-line winds. The semi driver was not injured.
Today will be sunny with a high near 86 and low around 64 tonight and Friday will be mostly sunny with a high near 89 with nighttime temperatures around 67 degrees.
According to the National Weather Service, there's a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and a 50 percent chance later that evening.
There's also a chance of thunderstorms Sunday morning.