Image: Tornado in Minnesota
Jay Schneider  /  Lake Region Life via AP
A tornado appears Thursday, near Waterville, Minn.
updated 8/25/2006 1:28:48 PM ET 2006-08-25T17:28:48

Deadly storms swept across the northern Plains, bringing tornadoes that ripped roofs off houses and hail that smashed car windshields.

In Missouri, most of the Jefferson City area lost power for about two hours as the storms continued Friday.

A day earlier, a man died after a tornado hit his home in Minnesota, while in Wisconsin, lightning apparently struck a woman as she left a supermarket. Hundreds of cows were killed or were on the loose.

Twisters, heavy rain and hail as big as grapefruit also struck the Dakotas, stripping trees of their leaves, and power was knocked out around the region.

Also Thursday, a flash flood in New Mexico killed a man and a boy driving on a tribal road in New Mexico.

In Nicollet County, Minn., a tornado ripped roofs, fronts or sides from farm homes along a 12-mile stretch of highway between Nicollet and St. Peter. Utility poles lay along the road, and some treetops were sheared off.

Mary Rahm, 22, saw the tornado dip down twice from the clouds before it hit the ground. That’s when she grabbed her newborn baby and ducked under a desk.

“My 5-week-old son just made it through his first tornado,” Rahm said. “This is wicked.”

'Nothing left' after storm's destruction
A tornado that hit a home in nearby Kasota killed a 90-year-old man, said Tom Douherty, chief deputy in the Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have areas that you can’t believe a house was there. Crops — you wouldn’t even know there was a crop there. Cornfields — there’s nothing left,” he said Friday.

Close to two dozen residents were treated at hospitals for broken bones and other non-life-threatening injuries, Le Sueur County spokeswoman Roxy Traxler.

Hundreds of dairy cattle were killed or running free, causing car accidents in the area.

An earlier line of thunderstorms dropped hail as large as softballs in several communities, smashing the windshield of a New Prague fire truck. In Northfield, hail damage to 11 police squad cars forced officers to borrow vehicles from the sheriff’s office.

At least a half-dozen tornadoes raked across central South Dakota, destroying farm homes and damaging power lines.

Jeff Miller said the storm looked like a blanket as he watched from his mother’s home near Wolsey.

“I was worried about whether I was going to be here today,” Miller said Friday, surveying the debris.

“That used to be a barn,” he said.

Neighbor Bill Timm lost nine buildings, including two houses.

“They’re not flattened, they’re gone,” said Kristi Brakke, Timm’s sister.

North Dakota had heavy rain, funnel clouds, and grapefruit-sized hail.

“It didn’t really hail all that much, but what it did hail was big,” Stanton City Auditor Rick Honeyman said.

In Wisconsin, a 43-year-old woman was knocked to the ground while carrying an umbrella and groceries through a parking lot in Waukesha County.

“I don’t remember hearing thunder or seeing lightning or anything,” Kelly Owen told WISN-TV in Milwaukee. “It’s the weirdest sensation.”

Lightning suspected as cause of fire
Lightning also killed a dozen cows on a farm in Marshall, and strikes were suspected of starting fires at a seniors’ apartment complex in Kenosha and a home in Cottage Grove home.

Lightning was suspected of knocking out electricity feeder lines that left about 30,000 homes and businesses in Jefferson City, Mo., without power just as people headed into work and school.

More rain was expected Friday in Michigan and the upper Mississippi Valley southwest to Kansas and Oklahoma.

In New Mexico, heavy rains closed Interstate 40 for more than an hour, and a man and boy died when their car was swept away as they tried to drive across a ditch east of Gallop.

They were the only people in the car, Navajo Nation Police Commander Johnny Johnson said.

And in New York, the city was under a rare tornado warning for about a half-hour Friday. No tornado touched down, the National Weather Service said.

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