Thunderstorms shower U campus, state

Flash-flood warnings were enacted for the seven-county metro area.

Than Tibbetts

A long line of strong thunderstorms rolled over much of the state Monday afternoon, downing tree branches, sending pedestrians scampering for higher ground and leaving some University buildings a little damper than usual.

Heavy rains and winds reaching 60 mph prompted the National Weather Service to issue flash flood warnings for the seven-county metro area as water filled the streets before rushing into storm drains.

Communications specialist Jen Rowe said the University’s Facilities Management Department wrote more than 200 work orders Monday, many because of the amount of water generated by the storm.

“(The calls were) mostly for water leaks, people leaving windows open and they weren’t on campus to close them,” she said. “That’s Mother Nature for you.”

Wayne Lund, who lives on Cleveland Avenue across from Bailey Hall, said he watched a large limb fall off a basswood tree, blocking the road. He said the tree fell right as the winds picked up, before the rain started falling.

A St. Paul Parks and Recreation crew was called in to clean up the tree, which narrowly missed causing major damage to two parked vehicles.

A University police officer brought Doreen Murray to her silver Chevrolet, which barely avoided the branch.

The tree’s large limb remained connected to the trunk after breaking, sparing the front of her vehicle from a serious crunch.

“Usually, I’m not this lucky,” said Murray, a program assistant in the soil, water and climate department.

The St. Paul Parks and Recreation crew members said the tree will eventually be removed because it is rotten and hollow.

The storm knocked out power to more than 35,000 Xcel Energy customers in the metro area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.