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Hail accumulates like snow as Twin Cities, Wisconsin ravaged by storms

Crews used snowplows to clear the streets after a hailstorm hit the Twin Cities area Sunday morning. (Photo courtesy of the city of Coon Rapids, Minn.)

Severe thunderstorms rolled through southern and east-central Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin Sunday morning with heavy downpours, hail, strong wind and lightning.

Rain and thunderstorms moved across the Northland as well, although none were severe in the Twin Ports area.

A second wave of thunderstorms, some of them severe, continued to pound parts of northern Wisconsin into the afternoon and evening, with the National Weather Service in Duluth issuing a flash flood warning for Washburn, Price, Burnett and Sawyer counties, as well as parts of Ashland and Iron counties, in addition to southeastern Pine County in Minnesota. Some areas had already seen more than four inches of rain along with hail and strong winds by Sunday afternoon, with more rain continuing to fall into the evening.

There were reports in the Twin Cities of accumulating hail and damaging winds to 70 mph. Xcel Energy reported power out to more than 130,000 customers in the Twin Cities Sunday morning and hail as big as baseballs was reported in some suburbs. In some areas city snow plows were clearing roads of hail stones, various government agencies reported.

The metro area office of the NWS said in a tweet about 8:35 a.m., "It's NASTY here at the office in Chanhassen right now. TAKE COVER in the Twin Cities NOW!!!!"

Within minutes, downtown Minneapolis was pitched into darkness amid storm clouds, heavy rain and the peppering of hail. The Twin Cities temperature plunged as the storm rolled in, going from 75 degrees at 8 a.m. to barely 60 two hours later, the NWS said.

In Coon Rapids, public works crews fired up the heavy equipment and pushed away several inches of hail from the streets.

Farther east, in Scandia, the Washington County Sheriff's Office report there was "so much hail, it's like it snowed."

Chisago County sheriff's deputies between Rush City and North Branch, just north of the metro, herded to shelter many bicyclists participating in the annual MS 150 charity bike ride, which runs from Proctor to the Twin Cities. The cyclists were back on their mounts by 10 a.m. or so, once the wicked weather passed, authorities said.

Sawyer County authorities announced Monday that the storm prompted the immediate closure of six roads until further notice. They are:

  • County Highway H from State Highways 27/70 to County Highway CC
  • County Highway CC to State Highways 27/70 to County Highway N
  • State Highway 40 from Litke Lane to Cemetery Road
  • Flowage Road in the Town of Hunter
  • Right of Way Road in the Town of Sand Lake
  • Helsing Road in the towns of Radisson and Ojibwa

Chief Deputy Craig Faulstich of the Sawyer County Sheriff's Office said there are no established detours in place for any of the roads at this time.

“County and township crews are working to repair the damage to these roads and reopen them as soon as possible,” he said in a news release. “We ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune contributed to this report.

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