Wisconsin Avoids Upper Midwest Storms that Hit Iowa, Minnesota

May 28, 2008

Wisconsin emergency-management officials breathed a sigh of relief on May 25 as a series of storms that caused death and destruction in two neighboring states left Wisconsin with only minor damage.

The series of thunderstorms left at least seven people dead and dozens injured in Iowa, while a 2-year-old was killed in a separate storm in Minnesota that left at least 20 people unaccounted for.

Wisconsin emergency officials tracked the storms all night as the nasty weather moved into the state. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch about 6 p.m. for 45 of the state’s 72 counties but canceled the alert five hours later as the storms began to ease.

Thunderstorms dropped hailstones the size of golf balls in St. Croix County, said meteorologist Bob McMahon of the National Weather Service, but there was no tornado anywhere in the state.

“There was a storm report of a possible funnel cloud from a spotter in Taylor County,” McMahon said. “There was no confirmation that it touched down.”

Across the state there were reports of toppled trees and power outages, as well as a single report of a minor injury.

At least 16,000 people across the state lost power at some point, including 10,000 people in southeastern Wisconsin, according to We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey. Those affected included about 4,600 customers in Racine County, almost 2,000 in the Milwaukee area and 1,400 in Waukesha.

Some 6,000 people in the St. Croix County area also lost power, said Xcel Energy spokesman Brian Elwood said. Most were expected to have power restored by midnight with the rest scheduled to get power back May 26..

Hailstorms battered Barron County, damaging 30 homes and knocking down trees, said Lori Getter, spokeswoman for Wisconsin Emergency Management.

Another storm blew through the St. Paul, Minn., suburb of Hugo, leaving a 2-year-old child dead and at least 20 people unaccounted for, city administrator Mike Ericson said. About four dozen homes were damaged.

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