Severe thunderstorms (possible derecho) blasted across a large area of the Midwest Thursday afternoon/evening. There were at least 59 locations that measured winds of hurricane force – from 75-110 mph. Early reports indicate one fatality and 18 people treated at two hospitals (some in critical condition). The final number of injured is expected to be higher. There are always people injured in the clean-up after the storm. Governor Kristi Noem of SD has called out the National Guard to aid in the recovery. Residents over a large area have been urged not to travel because of debris on roads. (pic. above is the destroyed water tower at Brandon SD)

Weather Observations from the Huron SD airport showing 90 mph wind gust.

Here’s the weather observations from the Huron SD airport, showing a steady wind of 58 mph with a peak gust of 90 mph at 5:04 pm. The temperature fell 14 degrees in 9 minutes. You can also see how the wind shifted from ESE to SSE to SSW when the storm hit to W and then back to SSE.

today Reports Graphic
Storm Reports (CSV) (Raw Torn

There were three relatively inconsequential tornadoes. Here again the great danger was from the straight-line thunderstorm winds. As I write this, there are 352 reports of wind damage with 59 measured gusts of 75-110 mph. Some of the measured gusts: 107 mph Tripp SD, 102 mph Colorado Lake SD, 97 mph Madison SD, 96 mph Wentworth SD, 94 mph Verndane MN.

A giant dust cloud accompanied the strong winds, reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile. The above pic. was taken just as the dust cloud and damaging wind arrived at the Sioux Falls Airport. Here’s a pic. from an airplane trying land at the airport as the storm came in. The plane aborted the landing and was diverted to Omaha.

The Brookings Health Care System says it is treating about a dozen people for injuries, some of them are critical and had to be airlifted to Sioux Falls. The Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown says it’s treating six storm victims from Hamlin, Deuel and Codington Counties. Many homeowners and businesses in central Salem are dealing with significant damage…trees uprooted, windows shattered, sheds, grain bins and rooftops destroyed. The Salem Nursing Home was destroyed.

Many schools in the affected area will be closed today (Fri.). The The Castlewood school has extensive damage to the roof and siding. At 2 am Friday – 65,337 customers were without power in MN and 28,917 in SD. Keep in mind that most areas hit were rural and those numbers represent large areas without power.

Mangled Power Lines in Sioux Falls SD

No travel is advised in the city of Sioux Falls because of downed large trees and live power lines down, according to Sioux Falls Fire Rescue. SFFR says emergency crews are trying to assess storm damage, which involves downed power lines and downed tree limbs all over the city. Pictures here.

Semi flipped on the Interstate.

Look how dark it is in the pic. above – this is daylight, around 5-6 pm – massive dust cloud accompanied the storms.

This is I-229 (side note – this is one of the shortest interstate highways – only 11 miles long and entirely within the city limits of Sioux Falls SD) – here the southbound lanes are totally blocked by a downed exit sign. Good thing no one was at that spot when the sign fell. Also – imagine this happened at night – you might be driving at 55 or 70 mph and not see this in time to stop.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol has responded to more than a dozen overturned semis on Interstate 90 and Interstate 29, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.
Car destroyed by large fallen tree near Sioux Falls SD.

Here’s more damage pics. and video of the wind in Nebraska. Before the storms hit – record high temperatures were set or tied at Huron and Sioux Falls SD and Sioux City IA. Several locations in Iowa reached the upper 90s.

Multiple semis were tipped over on Interstate 90 in SD. There were “trees uprooted all over Brookings SD with damage to headstones in two cemeteries. Here’s video of the storm coming in – look at how thick the dust cloud was that accompanied the strong winds – day became night.

Parts of Minnesota have had 7″ of rain in the last 2 days.