The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 21, 2013

Update: Quick-hitting storm does lots of damage

By Tim Krohn

---- — NORTH MANKATO — A quick but powerful storm moved through North Mankato and Mankato early Friday morning leaving downed trees and limbs, power outages and some property damage.

High winds and rain swept in about 4 a.m. with the worst damage in lower North Mankato along South and Nicollet avenues. Some trees were also downed on hilltop Mankato.

A slow-moving strong thunderstorm continued to move south throughout the morning bringing flood warnings to southern Blue Earth, northern Faribault and parts of Martin counties with some already soaked areas getting another 2 to 4 inches of rain.

No injuries were reported.

At 407 South Ave., Darrin Johnson was surveying the damage from a large tree that fell onto the top of the home he owns and rents to others.

"I got a text at 4:30 that said 'I think a tree fell on our roof,' " Johnson said of the message he received from his renter.

Down the street, another man was picking up branches and recounting the storm.

"There wasn't any warning. The house started shaking and I told my wife we have to get in the basement," he said.

Next to the Nakato Bar & Grill on Belgrade Avenue, a tree was uprooted when it fell, just missing the new patio area of the bar.

Mankato police officers and firefighters responded to more than a dozen calls for branches on power lines or in a roadway, said Cmdr. Dan Schisel of the Mankato Department of Public Safety.“We were really busy due to the weather conditions,” he said.The first priority is to secure the areas where branches are on power lines until the branches can be removed by public works employees and the lines can be checked, Schisel said. Getting large branches off the road is also a priority.

Isolated pockets of power outages were reported as tree limbs knocked down lines.

City crews, Xcel crews and tree services were out in lower North Mankato and Mankato cleaning up debris, cutting branches and trying to restore power.

At Riverfront Park in Mankato, several large vendor tents used for events were ripped up from their anchor lines and tumbled.

Xcel Energy says nearly 140,000 customers are without power in Minnesota following severe thunderstorms.

The company reports about 1,500 outages affecting about 139,600 customers before 7 a.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service says some parts of Minnesota got 4 to 5 inches of rain in just a couple of hours. More storms are expected tonight and during the weekend.

North Mankato residents can toss branches and other storm debris into the boulevard, though Mankato crews only plan to pick up debris from city-owned boulevard trees, not private ones.

North Mankato will be picking up downed tree limbs starting Monday.

"We¹ll take private property trees, as well,² Streets Supt. Brad Swanson said. "We certainly want residents to get the full benefit from our chippers."

Mankato residents can take their storm debris to the Southern Minnesota Construction compost site, at 3600 Third Ave., for free. They¹re open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.

If residents see a safety risk, they can call 911.