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Thousands without power due to storm; no travel advised in several communities

A tree fell onto a home in Huron following May 12 storm.
A tree fell onto a home in Huron following May 12 storm.(Submitted photo/Michael Dramstad)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A powerful storm system with strong winds left a swath of damage across eastern South Dakota and left thousands of people without power.

No travel advisories have been issued in several communities due to downed power lines and other storm damage. Police in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Brookings, and Madison all asked residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

Dust cloud moves into Irene on May 12.
Dust cloud moves into Irene on May 12.(Submitted photo/Nicole Nygaard)

Tens of thousands of people are without power due the storm. Around 7 p.m., three major energy providers in the region - Xcel Energy, Northwestern Energy, and the South Dakota Rural Electric Association - reported combined roughly 45,000 customers without power. That number has been decreasing since then.

An Xcel Energy spokesperson contacted Dakota News Now to ask people to avoid downed power lines as they clean up after the storm. He said many of those lines are active and dangerous.

It is unclear how many injuries may have been caused by the storm. The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office confirmed someone was seriously hurt when they were struck by flying debris near Colton. Police responded to a report of someone trapped in her car after a tree fell on it in central Sioux Falls. A Dakota News Now crew at the scene saw an ambulance take a woman from the scene.

A tree fell on a car in central Sioux Falls during a powerful wind storm May 12. A woman was...
A tree fell on a car in central Sioux Falls during a powerful wind storm May 12. A woman was taken from the scene by ambulance.(Dakota News Now)

Reports of downed trees and damaged vehicles are coming in from around the region. A water tower under construction in Brandon was visibly damaged following the storm.

Dakota News Now has received multiple reports of vehicle at stores or events being ordered to shelter-in-place, including at the Empire Mall and Costco in Sioux Falls, as well as a softball game at SDSU in Brookings.

From meteorologist Austin Haskins: The reason for these storms is a warm front that slowly pushed through the region, bringing in hot and humid air. That combined with a cold front led to the thunderstorm development and strong winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere supported the winds to become as fierce as they were. The Storm Prediction Center issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the southeastern counties in our area and they deemed it as a “particular dangerous situation” with the concern of widespread damaging wind gusts that could be as high as 105 mph.

Follow the latest warnings and watches on the First Alert Weather page.

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