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Weekend wind, hail leave a mess

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Weekend wind, hail leave a mess
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

STICKNEY — Caught out in the storm, Bill Ernst had a safe place to wait out Saturday's wind and hail that ran through the region.

He went out to move his 1964 Buick Special that was parked on the side of the house but with 70 mph winds and sheets of rain and small hail falling, he figured he better stay put. He waited out the storm inside the car and the classic car showed no problems from the storm.

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"It's got better metal in it than what you see in today's cars," he said. "We got pretty lucky."

Ernst and his wife, Debbie, had their share of damage with lost limbs from trees but by midday Saturday, the cleanup was already in full force, with firefighters and volunteers coming in with large equipment to haul away the downed trees.

That was mostly the case throughout Aurora and Douglas counties, where the strongest winds and hail came through the area, damaging the siding and roofs of homes and trees, most notably in Stickney, Corsica and Delmont.

No injuries were reported, according to local law enforcement.

Around the corner from Ernst, Jim Brown was boarding up a few of his windows on a couple of his Main Street businesses, including the Lincoln House Bed and Breakfast. Two buildings away, the Stickney post office building needed a piece of plywood over a window as well.

"It's quite the mess here," he said. "We didn't do too well in this one."

His concern also included The Depot building, which he owns and sits along U.S. Highway 281 at the entrance to downtown. On the northwest corner of the building, the roof was peeled back, leaving a large hole in that building.

Stickney Fire Chief Jeff Sauvage said he was watching the storm on the northwest edge of town and witnessed some rotation in the skies. He estimated the winds were spinning at 70 mph. He said the town couldn't activate its storm siren because the town's power was out, so members of the fire department went through the streets with the truck sirens blaring to alert residents of the severe storm, which hit around 9:45 a.m. He saw golf ball size hail hit the town.

"The north windows mostly got the brunt of it with that wind whipping in," Sauvage said.

Ernst said it reminded him of an ice storm that hit the town a few years ago. Debbie said the family was thankful for the help it was getting from other residents and the volunteer fire department.

"It's really nice," she said. "We wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise."

Further to the south, the damage from the storm could be seen in the Corsica's most public locations. Along U.S. Highway 281, the Corsica Inn had blown out windows and punctured siding on its two-level hotel building and the north side of Hoffman's Gas and Grill had holes up and down its siding.

At the Netherlands Reformed Congregation Church in Corsica, congregation members were working on a temporary fix to the church roof, after insulation and roofing materials were torn off the north portion of the building. Karen Johnson, the church's janitor, said they estimated four of the roof's rafters were also broken by the storm, a bad break for the recently finished structure which was built in 2008.

"Thankfully, it's not too bad," Johnson said. "We had a bunch of guys show up and start working on the roof."

Near the Corsica school, the town's ballfield sustained significant damage, with the chain-link backstop behind home plate folded down onto the field and the grandstand covering for the bleachers had been whipped off and thrown to the fringe of the outfield grass between first and second base.

"The ballfield got it pretty good," said Corsica School District Superintendent Vern DeGeest, surveying the damage. The school was not damaged by the storm.

A trained spotter witnessed 2.75-inch -- or baseball size -- hail about four miles east of Corsica, according to the National Weather Service.

In Delmont, trees were strewn all over Main Street and a few windows were out at the Delmont Community Center. At the Tri-Del Golf Course east of Delmont, a storage shed sustained damage to the roof as a result of the storm. On the west side of town, the Twin Rivers Old Iron Association show grounds had a few damaged buildings and a blown down windmill. Fire Chief Elmer Goehring said the town was mostly dealing with downed limbs and power lines.

"We've had a big community cleanup going on," he said. "We have a lot of broken off poles that will need work."

A machine shed on a farm about seven miles northwest of Delmont was blown down in the storm, Goehring said.

Jay Kokesh was delivering wheat to the Dakota Plains grain terminal at Beardsley, between Parkston and Tripp, on Saturday morning when the storm hit. He said he could see the storm coming from the west and at the next moment, the wind was banging against the trucks and the rain was coming hard. He said they huddled around the tall grain bins inside the trucks and attempted to wait out the storm.

"It was just dark," he said, playing a video he took on his iPhone to illustrate. "I've never seen it rain like that."

Rural areas in western Hutchinson and northern Bon Homme counties experienced minor damage and downed branches, according to the respective counties' sheriffs departments.

The State B Legion baseball tournament in Tabor had to be delayed Saturday morning as hail entered the area around 10:45 a.m., putting a halt to play on the second day of the tournament. Play resumed before 4 p.m. at Leonard Cimpl Field.

The highest wind speed recorded from the storm was at White Lake, where an automated weather station recorded speeds of 67 mph at 9:20 a.m. White Lake also had the highest rain total amount, recording 1.4 inches from the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, which is a group of local weather observers, the following communities had more than one inch of rain: Gann Valley (1.38), Tabor (1.35), Parkston and Kimball (1.17), Plankinton (1.15) and Corsica (1.03).

A total of 0.64 inches was recorded in Mitchell and 0.46 inches were recorded in Tyndall, which saw golf ball size hail in the area, as well.

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