Late-night storm leaves a mess

High winds level steel shed, knock down tree branches

Photo by Deb gau Mike Vlaminck climbs a ladder to help remove broken window glass from a building he owns in Ghent. Vlaminck said storm debris broke the window Tuesday night

A storm packing powerful high winds slammed into the region late Tuesday evening and leveled a steel shed being used by the Marshall Public Schools’ career and technical education center.

The fast-moving storm also knocked down tree branches throughout the region.

Dion Caron, business services director for MPS, said the district had been using the building, located near North U.S. Highway 59 in Marshall, for equipment storage.

“We didn’t have a lot in that building,” he said. But MPS had also hoped the building could be used for teaching construction trades at some point in the future.

Caron said MPS has contacted its insurance company and started a claim for the shed. Once some of the debris is lifted up, the district will be able to check on the equipment stored there.

“We were fortunate the other buildings on that property were not damaged,” Caron said. The district’s plans for the CTE center include renovating existing buildings for their welding and Certified Nursing Assistant programs.

The severe thunderstorms that moved across southern Minnesota Tuesday night brought winds with speeds ranging anywhere from about 50 to 80 miles per hour, according to reports gathered by the National Weather Service. Around 10:05 p.m., a gust of 65 miles per hour was reported in Minneota. At 10:08, the Marshall airport recorded a 75-mile per hour gust.

In Ghent, near Minnesota Highway 68, Mike Vlaminck was on a ladder, removing broken pieces of the front window in a building he and his wife owned.

“It was storm debris,” that smashed the window, Vlaminck said. Vlaminck said a tree had also fallen on top of a power line in the alley behind the building.

Storm damage in the area included reports of downed tree limbs, said Amber Scholten, emergency management director for Lincoln County.

“In Lake Benton, we had a tree on a power line. I haven’t heard of a lot of structures (damaged) yet,” Scholten said. Scholten stopped in Ghent Wednesday morning to see if the community needed assistance after the storm.

Marshall didn’t appear to have been hit as hard by the high winds, although Marshall parks superintendent Preston Stensrud said two of the tents that had been put up at Independence Park for National Night Out were destroyed by the storm.

“There were lots of branches and limbs down,” Stensrud said.

High winds Tuesday night also caused power outages across southern Minnesota. Ghent residents said their electricity went out for a couple of hours Tuesday night.

Xcel Energy spokespeople said approximately 135,000 customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin were affected by power outages overnight, and more than 70% had power restored by Wednesday morning. Situations that threatened public safety, like live downed wires, are given priority when restoring power, Xcel said in a news release.

High temperatures and another chance for thunderstorms are still in the forecast for the Marshall area this week, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. A daytime high temperature of 97 degrees is forecast Friday, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms on Friday night. On Saturday there is a 60% chance of showers, and possibly a thunderstorm, the NWS said.


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