MINNETONKA, Minn. — The strong storms that passed through the Twin Cities overnight into Wednesday morning downed a lot of trees and branches.
Off Minnehaha Avenue, the strong winds toppled a huge tree onto two cars covering much of the street. It also took out a light pole.
About a block away on 34th Street a huge tree limb fell on top of a car. The owner said his car was mostly spared with just some damage to the windshield.
According to Hennepin County, the highest official wind speed was reported at 62 mph at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. In Eden Prairie, the highest recorded speed was 50 mph, and it was 52 mph in Falcon Heights. Most of the damage in the area consisted of downed branches rather than entire trees, the county’s emergency manager said.
Xcel Energy says 135,000 customers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin experienced power outages overnight. More than 70% of connections have been restored since then. As of 6 p.m. there were less than 10,000 customers without power in the metro area.
The company says top repair priority is given to situations that threaten public safety, such as live downed wires.
Off 31st Avenue, a WCCO crew saw police at the scene of a bad motorcycle crash a big tree branch that took down a powerline nearby, and there was a body at the scene. We’re still waiting for more information from police about what happened and whether it was weather related.
As crews in Golden Valley pick up the pieces, homeowners like Nathan Eklund say big storms meant not much sleep.
“I thought it was a machine, like I thought like maybe a street sweeper is going by [laughs],” Eklund said. “Honestly it was loud enough to wake us up from a dead sleep.”
All through the neighborhood Wednesday morning rained tree shrapnel.
“We had one relatively large branch down in the side yard, and then backyard was littered with branches and stuff from the trees,” Eklund said.
Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage says they are always warning folks about the dangers of storms this time of year.
“This is our peak season. We always expect to get, you know, hit by weather in the summer,” Waage said. “If we were in retail, this would be our Christmas season, but we’re in weather.”
Golden Valley resident Benjamin Torell says he’s glad they had on the right channel at the right time.
“Really nice to have the heads up. WCCO came in really handy having that on last night. The power was on and they came in and told us it was coming,” Torell said. “We quickly put into action, and it gave us just about a 10-minute head start, and then it was like a light switch hit.”
The experts tell WCCO that in non-drought conditions, the storms and winds from overnight would have knocked down a lot more trees. But because the ground is as solid as it is, the trees are staying put and it’s the branches that are being thrown away.
“With that hard, dry soil, you really had branches you know snapping more than trees toppling and kind of falling over,” Waage said.
Those branches knocked out power for tens of thousands of people, including Eklund and his neighbors. But as the clouds leave, he says he’s focused on their silver lining.
“It was fortunate, that no one’s house, nothing really big came down. It seems like things could have been a lot worse,” he said.