by Mike Nistler
For the most part, St. Joseph residents were spared the worst when it came to last week’s stormy weather.
A couple different rounds of storms knocked down trees and left some without power, but compared to other places in central Minnesota, that didn’t seem so bad.
By early this week. Xcel Energy reported the number of Minnesota customers without power was down to about 60,000.
The Minneapolis-based utility worked for days to restore power following a series of severe thunderstorms that swept through Minnesota from Friday to early Saturday.
At the peak of outages more than 550,000 Xcel Energy customers were without service.
The utility says it expects to restore power to the vast majority of its customers by Wednesday.
The utility says it responds with top priority to situations that threaten public safety, such as downed wires. The next priority includes hospitals and nursing homes. Then crews focus on restoring service in densely populated areas.
The St. Joseph area received upwards of five inches of rain during the turbulent weather. The moisture caused the groundwater to become over-saturated, which led to many trees toppling over in the high winds.
From Friday through Monday, the area picked up anywhere from 3.95 inches of rain (Collegeville) to 4.77 inches (Melrose), according to Bob Weisman, St. Cloud State University meteorologist.
“The storms produced two waves of straight-line wind damage, the one affecting central Minnesota early Friday morning,” Weisman said. “This line of storms moved from the Morris and Benson area east and southeast throughout the St. Cloud area. Many large branches were torn off trees, trees with one- to two-foot trunks were snapped in half and a few large trees were completely uprooted.”
Winds were measured at 85.5 mph at Benson, 64 at Paynesville and 53 at the St. Cloud Airport, he said.
“Some of the responsibility for the large trees being down was the persistent heavy rains, softening the ground a bit, so large leafy trees were vulnerable,” Weisman said.