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Update, 10 a.m. Friday: Storm wind gust hit 87 mph, causing widespread damage (w/ video)

A home at the corner of Donna Drive and Meadow Lane was ripped apart.

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The owners of a home on the corner of West Meadow Lane and Donna Drive in northwest Alexandria look at what's left of their home after a storm whipped through the area Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — A severe thunderstorm with wind gusts of 80 miles per hour ripped through Douglas County Thursday night, May 12.

Accompanied by sheets of rain, the winds toppled decades-old trees, power lines, transformers, boat lifts, sheds and other structures.

One of the hardest hit areas was South Darling Drive NW, where houses were flattened, boats turned over, roofs torn away, a camper tipped over, and vehicles were damaged.

The National Weather Service is sending a team to the Alexandria area today to survey the reports of damage it's received. A wind gust of 87 mph was reported by a sensor on I-94 near Alexandria, and a wind gust of 72 mph was recorded at the Alexandria airport Thursday night, according to Michelle Margraf, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities.

Damage to buildings and/or downed trees were reported in Alexandria, Garfield, Osakis and Carlos.

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The National Weather Service will have more information after the survey is completed.

Along Donna Drive, Darling Drive and West Meadow Lane in northwest Alexandria, dozens of trees in soggy soil were uprooted. Many of them toppled into the street.

A home at the corner of Donna Drive and West Meadow Lane was ripped apart. The wind blew away the roof, some siding and collapsed a garage. Trees and debris fell on the vehicles inside. The homeowner, who didn't want to be identified, said he and his wife were in the basement when the winds picked up around 7:15 p.m. and they were not injured.

The homeowner had just installed new siding and windows a few months ago.

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A house on the corner of West Meadow Lane NW and Donna Drive in northwest Alexandria was destroyed by a storm that whipped through the area shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria firefighters were called to that area and removed a large tree that had toppled onto another house.

Local law enforcement agencies were busy throughout the storm and its aftermath. Between 7 p.m. and midnight, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Alexandria Police Department and Osakis Police Department responded to about 40 calls for service related to the storm — trees falling on electric lines, downed power poles, trees blocking roads, sparking power lines, property damage, semis in the median on I-94, jack-knifed semis, electrical fires, boat lifts blown from a cabin onto a road, and more.

Travel was also affected, with trees blocking roads and streets. Also, shortly before 9 p.m., eastbound Interstate 94 was temporarily closed near Alexandria due to overturned semis from high winds. The Minnesota Department of Transportation said motorists should use Exit 103 and follow the signed interstate alternate routes.

The three crashes happened in the space of 7 minutes.

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City of Alexandria trucks redirects eastbound traffic off Interstate 94 due to severe weather with up 87 mile per hour winds blowing across the freeway on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Other damage reports from throughout the county came across the police scanner.

At 7:01 p.m., the National Weather Service and Douglas County Code Red issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Douglas, Pope, Chippewa, Stevens, Swift and Kandiyohi counties until 7:45 p.m.

At 6:59 p.m., severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from 6 miles west of Herman to near Kensington to near Glenwood to near Cosmos, moving northeast at 70 mph.

The storm hit Alexandria at about 7:10 p.m. and then moved on to Evansville and Brandon.

The National Weather Service warned that the storms for Alexandria and Willmar were destructive and packed winds of 80 mph. It said flying debris would be dangerous to those caught without shelter and mobile homes may be heavily damaged.

Emergency responders discovered a deceased man under a collapsed grain bin just before 7 p.m. Thursday in Kandiyohi County.

"Expect considerable damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles," the National Weather Service said. "Extensive tree damage and power outages are likely."

Other locations impacted by these severe thunderstorms included Glenwood Airport, Swift Falls, Alberta, Garfield, Willmar Airport, Villard, Blomkest, Fish Lake, Miltona and Holmes City.

More than 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power across the region early Friday as damage assessment and cleanup continued after the second straight night of widespread severe weather.

The storms also posed a destructive hail threat, the National Weather Service said.

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A tornado watch remained in effect until midnight for central and west central Minnesota.

Reporter Mikkel Pates describes how the May 12, 2022, derecho wind storm hit close to home. He helped his brother, who farms near Volga, South Dakota, clean up building damage.

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A boat overturned, a garage collapsed and trees went through a house on South Lake Darling Drive owned by Chad and Heidi Schroeder. A storm hit Douglas County shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022. Many areas around the county were hit hard and damage is widespread.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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The Minnesota State Patrol took this photo of an overturned semi on Interstate-94 near Alexandria Thursday evening, May 12, 2022.
MN State Patrol / Contributed photo
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Emily Notch submitted this photo of storm clouds taken Thursday, May 12, 2022, on Birch Avenue in Miltona.
Emily Notch / Contributed photo
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Alexandria firefighters work on a downed tree in the Tabberts Park area in northwest Alexandria Thursday, May 12, 2022, after a storm ripped through the area.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Debris was scattered everywhere after a storm ripped through a house at the intersection of Donna Drive and West Meadow Lane in northwest Alexandria Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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More storm damage along South Lake Darling Drive in northwest Alexandria. The storm hit around 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Storm damage along South Lake Darling Drive in northwest Alexandria. A storm hit the area around 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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A house along South Lake Darling Drive in northwest Alexandria received extensive damage after a massive storm whipped through parts of Douglas County Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Several trees landing on a house across from Tabberts Park in northwest Alexandria Thursday, May 12, 2022, after a storm hit the area.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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A tree presses on a power line on the south side of Latoka Drive SW in Alexandria.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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A tree uprooted in a flooded yard off Kings Road SE in Alexandria.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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Strong gusts of wind overturned a trailer still attached to a truck in the parking lot of the Pilot Travel Center on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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