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Weekend storms knock out power, topple grain bins

Rick Buck and neighbor Steve Ryan prepare to move a storage bin destroyed during a storm on the Buck farm west of Goodhue early Saturday morning.

Fast-moving storms wreaked havoc throughout much of the state during the weekend, blowing over grain bins in Goodhue County, knocking out power in Minneapolis and spawning a tornado near Watertown.

About 250,000 Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin lost power during storms on Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, about 11,000 were still without electricity. Power was expected to be restored to all customers today.

In Goodhue County, a farm family believes a tornado touched down on their property early Saturday morning, but county and weather officials couldn't verify the twister.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, Rick and Donna Buck woke up to ferocious winds pounding their farm house.

"Usually the wind blows and then it goes back down. But it just kept growling and growling and it's like, 'We need to get down to the basement,'" Rick Buck said.


The couple headed to the basement as the storm continued to roll across their farm at 12767 Goodhue County Road 9.

"It was so loud. It's the first time we've ever gone to the basement. It just got loud and we didn't realize how bad the damage was until it got light out," Donna Buck said.

The strong winds had knocked down a grain bin, torn part of the roof off the animal shed and damaged two other sheds. It also had also ripped off the gazebo on the family's back porch, flinging it into a nearby corn field.

Just west of the Bucks, John and Kim Goplen were busy cleaning up from storm damage.

Kim Goplen said she had been keeping an eye on the radar as the storm approached. As the loud thunder and heavy rain pounded their home, she peered out a window and noticed the cows were no longer in the animal shed.

That's when she woke up her husband. With the power out and it pitch black outside, John Goplen said it was impossible to tell what, exactly, had happened. In the morning, they discovered the storm had destroyed the animal shed housing the cattle, two pigs and four chickens. Twisted pieces of metal from the shed slammed into Goplen's old pick-up, scraping and denting it. Somehow, all the animals survived the damage. It's the first time the family has every dealt with storm damage.

"We've been here 17 years, and we've just had minor problems," John said.

A warning from the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., at 12:32 a.m. Saturday reported the storms crossing southeastern Minnesota were producing damaging winds, and "a small tornado could not be ruled out."


A tornado warning was issued at 1:57 a.m. for Wabasha County, effective until 2:30 a.m. A brief tornado along the line of storms may have occurred near Kellogg, as indicated in radar imagery on the NWS website.

Winds were clocked at 47 mph in Rochester and 52 mph in Oronoco, both about 1:55 a.m. At the same time, reports of trees down were noted along Minnesota Highway 42 near Kellogg, and on Minnesota Highway 61 between Lake City and Wabasha.

Rain amounts ranged from a trace in Oronoco to an inch in Winona.

John Goplen talks about the storm that stuck his family's farm on Goodhue County Road 9 west of Goodhue early Saturday. The Goplens sustained damage to several buildings, tractors, and a pickup. At right is Marcus, 11. In the back of the truck is Michael, 3.

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