Rain continues today in southern Minnesota; some roads closed

Posted at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 18

(AP) -- Residents were assessing damage today and some farmers faced having to replant as heavy thunderstorms that rumbled across southern Minnesota dumped large hail and caused flooding.

Some roads were closed or restricted for several hours as the rain continued this morning, leaving water on the roads and causing a mudslide south of Winona, the state Department of Transportation said.

Rochester received nearly 5 inches of rain by 7 a.m., and rain was still falling, the National Weather Service said. Fairmont received 3.75 inches, New Ulm had 3, Owatonna had 2.5 and Olivia had 2.

The weather service reported hail as big as 1.75 inches falling at Sleepy Eye, New Ulm, Cambria, Courtland, Nicollet and Lake Crystal during Wednesday’s storms. One-inch hail was reported at Springfield, La Salle and Kasota, while three-quarter and half-inch hail fell at several other locations.

Golfball-sized hail damaged cars in Austin, where one car dealership estimated damage at about half a million dollars.

Deep drifts of hail piled up in Kasota, near Mankato, looking like snowdrifts.

``It was just like a blizzard. It kept going and going and going. First nickel-sized, then pea-sized,’’ said Dale Larson of Door Engineering and Manufacturing in Kasota, which had its shed roof parted by the weight of water and piled hail.

Hail in Lincoln and Lyon counties piled up to 2 inches thick on some roads, causing slippery conditions.

Some crop damage was reported.

``A ton of beans are going to end up being replanted,’’ said Kevin Jeurissen, a manager at LaSalle Farmers Grain Co., where marble-sized hail covered roads and fields.

Nicollet farmer Rick Rosin said it’s too early to tell whether he’ll have to replant. Meanwhile, he marveled at the surreal effect produced by the hail accumulations.

``It was really weird. It created steam that was like a fog,’’ Rosin said.

He also said it created pronounced temperature variations between areas that received hail and areas that didn’t.

``I was driving back to my farm just afterwards and it felt like driving from a June day into a January day,’’ he said.

Heavy rains caused street flooding in several communities. Up to 2 feet of water clogged intersections in Sleepy Eye, and there was some street flooding in Marshall. Water covered the road in some places in Winona County by early evening.

A flash flood watch remained in effect this morning for Olmsted, Winona, Fillmore, Mower, Houston and Dodge counties. An urban and small stream flood advisory was in effect around St. James, Mankato, Owatonna, Fairmont and Albert Lea.

The storms also brought high winds that blew over a semi on Highway 14 west of Lake Benton, near the Minnesota-South Dakota border.

In Lyon County, a full-sized pickup pulling a trailer blew over a mile east of Russell.

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