Twin Cities subway tornado warnings expire after storms

Large hail and heavy rain hit Minnesota on Wednesday and more severe weather will roll through the Twin Cities tonight and Thursday.

A tornado warning for areas of Dakota County including Eagan, Lakeville and Burnsville, as well as one for Anoka, Hennepin and Ramsey County expired just before 9 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

Parts of Waseca and Blue Earth counties in southern Minnesota were under a tornado warning until 9:15 p.m., the service said. A series of thunderstorm watches and warnings were in effect around southern Minnesota, and more were added across the St. Croix River, now including areas of northwestern Wisconsin.

The thunderstorms brought heavy rain and winds as well as small hail. Storm sirens went off in the subway, including in Minneapolis. Widespread power outages were reported, with around 75,000 Xcel Energy customers without service. The heavy rains flooded streets in the area, including Minneapolis.

“It will be a good night to have a way to get weather warnings,” said meteorologist Chris O’Brien, who works in the weather service’s Chanhassen office.

Earlier Wednesday, a tornado watch was issued for southeastern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro, and northwestern Wisconsin through midnight. Another was in effect until 9 p.m. in southwestern Minnesota covering an area from Mankato south to the Iowa border and west to Mitchell, SD The watch also covers the northwest Iowa, the National Weather Service said.

A series of severe thunderstorms dropped heavy rain and hail across much of southern and central Minnesota on Wednesday with winds up to 80 mph, the National Weather Service said.

“The Metro escaped the first round,” he said. “Later in the day we expect a more impactful storm,” with its arrival on the metro expected between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Rain, high winds, hail and tornadoes are possible, O’Brien said.

Earlier Wednesday, storms dumped more than 3 inches of rain near Waseca and hail 1 inch in diameter or more was reported at Plainview, Kasson, Pine Island, St. Michael and Cottonwood. The largest rocks – 2½ inches in diameter or the size of a tennis ball – fell in Oronoco, a town north of Rochester, the weather service said.

Some Xcel Energy customers lost service in the St. Cloud area after morning thunderstorms rolled through Stearns County.

Wednesday’s wild weather comes two days after powerful storms knocked down power lines, toppled dozens of trees and damaged buildings in Chisago County and Polk County in western Wisconsin. Residents of Lindstrom, Minnesota were still cleaning up damage from Monday’s storms. There was damage throughout Chisago County, the sheriff’s office said.

Near-record highs of 90 degrees and wet conditions will likely fuel more storms on Thursday, as most of the state faces an increased risk of severe weather – including another possibility of tornadoes.

“We expect extreme weather (tomorrow) – high winds, large hail and possible tornadoes,” said Melissa Dye, meteorologist with the weather service.

Behind the thunderstorms, temperatures will drop back into the upper 70s on Friday and the low 70s on Saturday and Sunday.

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