LYLE — The sight of a roof flying off a store’s roof and crashing into vehicles along the street wasn’t what 12-year-old Heaven Conn expected when he walked to a Lyle convenience store to buy snacks Wednesday afternoon.
The metal roof “sounded like metal scratching on a chalkboard” when it broke off the Lyle Body Shop at about 3:30 p.m., he said.
The roof broke loose when a large tree fell on it, he said. The spiraling roof landed on a four-door Saturn, crushing it, before rolling down Minnesota Highway 218 and smashing into three more vehicles, breaking windows and denting the bodies.
The rain and violent wind, estimated at 60 mph, that hit this town of about 500 people lasted just five to 10 minutes, according to residents. Other parts of southeastern Minnesota were also hit.
“It went crazy. You couldn’t even see out the window,” said Angie Mlenar. The wind blew all the furniture off her porch.
The wind knocked down trees and large branches all around Lyle, including an 80-foot silver maple that landed on a house owned by Dean and Helen Hoffman. The tree broke through the roof of the small, two-story house that was built about 100 years ago. The Hoffman’s granddaughter, Jasmine Christiansen, 19, lives in the house, but wasn’t inside during the storm. Her two dogs and three cats in the house weren’t harmed.
Tammy Soltero, who lives on Fourth Street, said she’d never seen a storm like it in Lyle.
“It was like a wall of rain going sideways, like a mini-hurricane,” she said.
The storm brought much-needed rain to farmers in southeastern Minnesota, but it also damaged some crops. Hail was reported in Dodge, Fillmore and Mower counties. Baseball-sized hail hit the Hayfield area.
Rochester got a quarter-inch of rain, but the hail and winds largely skirted the city, according to the National Weather Service.
Little or no rain is expected in the Rochester and Austin areas for at least the next four days. Temperatures in both areas are expected to be around 90 degrees through Sunday.
Wednesday storm reports from trained spotters:
• 12:58 p.m., 1.5-inch hail in Hayfield
• 1:58 p.m. Grand Meadow, 50-mph winds.
• 2:27 p.m., 0.75-inch hail in Racine.
• 2:45 p.m., thunderstorm wind damage in Spring Valley, up to 8-inch tree branches down, localized street flooding, six three-foot diameter trees down, park pavilion and apartment building damaged.
• 2:54 p.m., 5 miles west of Preston, 49-mph winds.
• 3:27 p.m. Harmony, 53-mph winds