Published June 22, 2013
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A fast-moving line of storms barreled across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest Friday evening, killing a woman in her trailer on a South Dakota lake and leaving thousands of people without power.
Hamlin County Sheriff Chad Schlotterbeck said the 63-year-old woman was hunkered down in the bathtub in her trailer on the east side of Lake Poinsett when a storm lifted the structure and dropped it to the ground. Schlotterbeck said the entire county of about 6,000 residents was without power Friday evening, and the fire department was going door to door to assess the extent of damage.
"We've got homes destroyed," he said.
The sheriff's office was waiting to release the woman's name until it could notify relatives. A man in his 60s was also injured in the storms, and another man was hospitalized from an electrical shock, Schlotterbeck said.
The National Weather Service said it received reports of tornadoes touching down in Clark, Hamlin, Spink and Kingsbury counties, as well as strong winds and golf-ball-sized hail. The storms later moved into Minnesota and Wisconsin, bringing heavy rain and damaging winds.
Some of the most notable damage from the storms occurred around Lake Poinsett, which is in northeast South Dakota and is home to numerous summer cabins. Jim Scarlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Aberdeen, said the damage was likely caused by a tornado, but the office was still assessing what happened.
Randy Knudtson was standing on the side of the road across from his cabin along Lake Poinsett when the storm moved in.
"It was completely black on the tree horizon and then in less than five minutes all of the sudden it was right on top of us," said Knudtson, 64. "I've never seen winds like this."
Knudtson went inside and huddled in the cabin's laundry room with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. The storm tossed around some of his neighbors' docks, pontoon boats and boat lifts, but his cabin was spared.
Scarlett said there were also reports of heavy wind damage around Castlewood and in Deuel County near Clear Lake.
"The town of Clear Lake just got devastated with wind damage," he said.
The winds blew down trees and branches in several areas, and heavy rain caused some street flooding.
In Wisconsin, a trained spotter measured 1.48 inches of rain in a 40-minute period in Hudson in St. Croix County, the National Weather Service said.
In Minnesota, the storms blew through the Twin Cities area less than 24 hours after damaging winds and heavy rain uprooted trees and knocked out power to more than 157,000 customers.
Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage said he saw "quite a few large trees down" as he surveyed damage from the latest storm.
"Almost everywhere I've driven has been out of power," Waage said Friday night. He said he had not received any reports of injuries.
A wind gust measuring 69 mph was reported just before 8 p.m. in suburban Crystal, the weather service said.
Amanda Viacara, bar manager at Chino Latino restaurant in Minneapolis, said the sky darkened and "the winds started coming in sideways." She said the rain "was moving from side to side," sending "a lot of people scurrying for cover."
"We had a lot of people that just decided to sit and relax and enjoy the inside (of the restaurant)," Viacara said.