Storms drop tornadoes, hail south of Twin Citiesby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio,
Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Trees and power lines were down and a semi-trailer overturned on a highway as a storm system bringing high winds, rain and possible tornadoes moved through Minnesota and into western Wisconsin.
But a tornado watch that had been in effect for a swath of counties from northern Minnesota to southern Minnesota -- including the Twin Cities -- expired at 4 p.m. The National Weather Service instead warned of the threat of severe thunderstorms.
The southeastern corner of Minnesota remained under a tornado watch until 7 p.m. for cities including Rochester and Austin.
Tornadoes were reported near Lakeville and Northfield in Dakota County. One vehicle was blown off the road at Interstate 35 and Highway 19 south of Lakeville, and a camper rolled over near Credit River.
A semi was overturned on County Road 47 about three miles north of Northfield. Dakota County Sheriff Chief Deputy Tim Leslie said the driver saw a funnel cloud, pulled over and sat in the truck's cab with a mattress over his head.
"The next thing you know he's sideways," Leslie said.
Leslie said the high winds are likely to blame for the crash, and he said there was minor damage to an adjacent home and garage. Tow trucks were called in to right the semi.
The National Weather Service reported that spotters had seen several funnel clouds, but not all of those sightings were immediately confirmed.
Funnel clouds were also spotted near Sauk Centre and Glenwood in central Minnesota.
Severe weather was also moving through western Wisconsin. A garage was destroyed near Hammond and a roof was blown off a house, according to the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department.
In nearby Baldwin, the National Weather Service reported that two tractor-trailers were blown off the road on Interstate 94. The Wisconsin State Patrol said the drivers of the semis suffered minor injuries and I-94 remained open.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports the hanger doors were blown off at the Hayward airport, with some additional damage to roofs.
Northern Minnesota also reported storm damage.
Brian Fritsinger, Cloquet's city administrator, said high winds downed trees earlier in the afternoon.
"We did have a pretty good stretch of tree damage, some power outages in certain parts of town, but nothing too significant in terms of damage to any structures," he said.
Weather forecasters have issued a tornado watch for the Twin Cities as a front moves through. The metro area had heavy rain earlier, but so far there are no reports of major damage in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Xcel Energy said about 2,400 people were without power in Hastings and Cottage Grove.
(MPR reporters Rupa Shenoy and Tim Nelson contributed to this report.)
Jessica Mador covers the Twin Cities as a member of the MPR News metro reporting team.