Severe weather pummels two US states

Storms carrying tornadoes, torrential rain and powerful winds damaged homes, deposited a snowplough in a tree, and flooded highways in two US states.

Authorities say a tornado damaged up to 20 homes in Litchfield, north-central Minnesota. Keith Johnson, the mayor of Litchfield, about 112km west of Minneapolis, said there was serious damage, but no one was injured.

“I’ve lived in this town 52 years and I’ve never seen a storm like this in our community,” Johnson said.

Diane Kelbing told KARE-TV that she and her husband raced to their mobile home park shelter when they heard the tornado warning siren.

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“Well, the garage is gone, the shed is gone, the snowmobile trailer is gone. We’ve got a snowplough in the tree,” Kelbing said.

Fifty residents were removed from the Hilltop Health Care Center in nearby Watkins after the home lost part of its roof. The American Red Cross said it is assisting the evacuees.

Law enforcement also reported a tornado touchdown around 6.30pm on Monday in Stearns County, Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms also washed out sections of highways in northern Wisconsin and closed other roads.

Wisconsin emergency officials said in a news release 33 people were trapped on Michigan Island in Lake Superior. The release didn’t offer any other details but said as of midmorning 20 people had been rescued and rescue efforts were still under way.

The storms also damaged or destroyed 85 boats at Saxon Harbor in Iron County, state emergency officials said.

The Ashland County Sheriff’s Office urged against travel in the county because many local roads were flooded. Sections of US Highway 2 and state Highway 13 south of Highbridge were closed on Tuesday.

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The National Weather Service said more flooding was likely in northern Wisconsin, where rivers and creeks will continue to rise over the next two days. Areas around Danbury to Minong, Hayward, Ashland and Hurley are expected to experience the most significant flooding.

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