WORTHINGTON — Another round of severe weather pummeled southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa Monday afternoon, with funnel cloud sightings, hail, straightline winds and heavy downpours of rain reported across the region.
On the heels of torrential rains that flooded a large portion of Rock County early Sunday and thoroughly soaked the ground elsewhere, Monday’s storm system dumped more precipitation over the already waterlogged area.
In Worthington, a funnel cloud was photographed to the north of the industrial park and tornado sirens were sounded twice, just before 4 p.m. and again at about 5 p.m. Downed branches and flooded roads were reported throughout the city, and no travel was advised inside or outside the city limits.
An additional 1.9 inches of precipitation was measured at the Daily Globe’s rain gauge Monday afternoon, and storms continued to march through during the evening hours.
Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening said there were mainly just flooded roads with no reports of structural damage.
“I heard that the Blue Line Cafe’s awning was torn down, but as far as any homes being damaged, I haven’t heard anything,” Wilkening said. “Just a lot of tree branches and a lot of rain.”
Two trained weather spotters reported funnel clouds in Ellsworth, southbound on Minnesota 91, according to Joe Deutsch, the civil service director for the Ellsworth Fire Department. No structural damage was reported.
Adrian City Administrator Bruce Heitkamp reported the Adrian Municipal Campground was evacuated and people were moved into a shelter area.
“We evacuated about 20-25 people, and a few people driving along Interstate 90 stopped in for shelter when the sirens went off,” he said. “No major damage was reported as far as I know, or major road closings. We just closed off Franklin and Indiana Avenue, which is a recognized flood area.”
Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge said that while tornado sirens did not need to be sounded there Monday afternoon, high winds were to blame for a semi that toppled on Interstate 90, west of Magnolia, and another semi that jack-knifed on U.S. 75, just north of Luverne.
The I-90 incident left both of the westbound lanes impassable, and a detour was established to direct motorists to alternate routes.
“We’ve got water going over the roads, on Highway 75, a lot of county roads and township roads, too,” he said. “We’ve had heavy rain from about 3:30 until about 4:45 p.m.
“All the water from the river is just heading down and just making a lot of roads impassable,” Verbrugge added. North of Luverne, water was over the road near Hardwick, and Kenneth had reported branches down in areas. North of Kenneth, pea-sized hail was reported.
“It literally looked like it was snowing,” Verbrugge said of the scene.
Luverne and Rock County were inundated with heavy rains over the weekend, leading to high flows on the Rock River and flooding in parts of the community. Numerous residents had water and/or sewer backup in the basements from those storms, and Verbrugge said Monday the same residences were likely hit again.
“We are an island,” he said of Luverne.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota State Patrol closed U.S. 75 north of Luverne at about 3:30 p.m. Monday due to flooding over the road. Minnesota 23 near Jasper was also reported to have water running over the road. A semitrailer rig tipped on its side and blocked lanes of Interstate 90 between Luverne and Magnolia.
No travel was advised in many area counties, due to the large number of roads with deep water running across them.
Additionally, power outages were reported through much of the rural area of southwest Minnesota. More than 1,000 people were estimated to be without power early Monday evening.
High winds were to blame for power outages to about 1,000 customers of Nobles Cooperative Electric, according to communications specialist Tracey Haberman Monday evening.
Both the Lismore and Worthington substations went out in the storm, and transmission lines a half-mile north of I-90 at Worthington came down, she said. In addition, Alliant Energy had seven poles either down or leaning near the Wilmont substation, and lines were down near the Worthington substation, on the east side of town.
By 5:45 p.m., Haberman said the Wilmont and Worthington substations were backfed, returning power to a majority of Nobles Cooperative Electric customers. At that time, there was still a feeder line out from the Worthington substation and some isolated outages in other areas of the service territory. Many of the customers were without power for about an hour and a half.
“Straightline winds that hit us — that really was the majority of the problem,” she said.
All Nobles Cooperative Electric crews were still out working as of 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“We’d like to thank our members for their patience and understanding,” Haberman said.
Nobles Cooperative Electric recently created a page on Facebook, which they are using to alert customers to power outages and provide updates on repairs. The page can be “liked” at www.facebook.com/noblescooperativeelectric.