Two storms damage trees, crops in Vermillion area

Two storms damage trees, crops in Vermillion area Two storms � at about 8 p.m. Saturday night and 2 a.m. Sunday morning � caused extensive tree damage in several neighborhoods in eastern Vermillion and wiped out crops northeast of town, but there were no injuries. by M. Jill Karolevitz Two storms � at about 8 p.m. Saturday night and 2 a.m. Sunday morning � caused extensive tree damage in several neighborhoods in eastern Vermillion and wiped out crops northeast of town, but there were no injuries.

Straight-line winds, estimated at about 70-75 mph, did the worst of the damage in the city, according to Todd Heitkamp, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

�I came down Sunday to look at the damage and our assessment is that it occurred as a result of straight-line winds,� he said. �There were a number of people who reported seeing funnel clouds, but they did not touch down and were not responsible for any of the damage.�

Pine Street, several areas on The University of South Dakota campus, and numerous locations throughout eastern sections of town experienced the worst damage with downed trees and branches. A shelter at Prentis Park was also flattened by a falling tree.

Ben Taylor, Clay County emergency management director, said the second storm was the worst as far as knocking trees over and blowing branches down.

�The first storm weakened everything and by the time the second storm came through, it was easier for the wind to knock things over,� Taylor said.

Rain totals varied throughout the region. Taylor�s rain gauge read one-half inch, while Vermillion�s wastewater treatment plant measured .32 and farmers northeast of town reported one-inch totals.

Members of the Vermillion Fire Department acted as spotters for the storm, as did Vermillion police officers, who also opened the storm shelter at the public safety center. Both departments spent the night patrolling the streets looking for downed trees and power lines. The fire department also helped clear debris from the streets.

After the first storm, Vermillion�s Street Department worked to clear the streets of debris, piling up broken branches on curbs so that they could be hauled away later, according to Rollie Isaacson, street superintendent. Crews hit the streets again at about 2 a.m. to clean up damage from the second storm.

�They were out until about 6:30 a.m.,� Isaacson said.

Mike Hays, Vermillion Light and Power superintendent, noted his crews were called out several times during the night as well.

�We lost one overhead circuit when a tree went down on a wire in the 900 block of Valley View, which put a few hundred people out of power for an hour or so until we could clean things up,� he said. �After that, we helped the street department clean up more trees.�

Power was also lost throughout town �a couple of times,� Hays added, due to storm trouble with another power source north of Vermillion.

In total, 12 full trees were lost to the storm, Isaacson said, and the clean up effort continued throughout the week.

He added that if residents notice broken branches in trees on boulevards, they should call the street department at 677-7078.

The aftermath of both storms revealed hail damage to crops north and northeast of Vermillion.

�In some fields northeast of town along the Greenfield Road, there�s nothing left,� said Ron Thaden, Extension educator-ag. �There�s also a patch north of town on Highway 19 that got hit pretty hard.

The hail was intense in some areas, but not as bad in others, he added.

�It skipped around a lot,� Thaden said.

Farmers who were hit the worst may have a chance to replant their soybeans, he continued.

�I would say that some of the corn will be okay because the hail didn�t damage the growing point,� Thaden said. �But there is a question about the beans that were hit.�

There�s still quite a bit of time to replant soybeans, if the producers want to, according to Thaden.

�If they have crop insurance, that�s an option,� he said. �And some seed companies have a replant provision, providing replacement seeds at a lower cost or total replacement.�

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