Storm rips through Meckling area

Storm rips through Meckling area by M. Jill Karolevitz An early morning storm on Saturday, Aug. 5, left Meckling area residents wondering if a tornado had ripped through the community.

The high winds, however, were ultimately described as a microburst by National Weather Service warning coordinator Todd Heitkamp.

�I was called out to Meckling at about 6 a.m.,� said Ben Taylor, Clay County Emergency Management director. �It looked like a war zone to me with all the trees laying in all directions.�

Clay County Highway Superintendent Art Leifgen sent a crew to Meckling on Saturday to help residents with clean-up efforts.

�Harvey Larson was also a big help,� Taylor said. �He brought a loader in to push the trees off the streets.�

East of town, Dakota Laboratories, owned by Keith Myron, lost a lab facility that was blown off its foundation by the storm. Remnants of the building have been pushed into a pile of rubble, but �we still haven�t found the roof,� said Myron�s secretary Kristi Cokens.

Just to the west of Myron�s property, a 60' x 150' pole shed owned by Dale Olson also took a beating.

�My son, Chris, lives here,� Olson said. �The shed is on the verge of being totaled and the house got a little beat up, but everyone got through it with their hide. It�s not so bad when no one gets hurt.�

West of Meckling, a vacant mobile home was also torn apart by the high winds and three other hay sheds were damaged.

Saturday�s storm was also to blame for the destruction of three mobile homes south of Mission Hill. In Mitchell, up to 15 homes and about 12 businesses sustained damage as wind gusts of 100 mph or more mangled pieces of siding and ripped off roofs. Twelve people were hurt.

There was very little storm damage in Vermillion on Saturday, but Mike Hayes, electric superintendent for the City of Vermillion, said all of Vermillion lost power for about three minutes Saturday morning from 4:18 to 4:21 a.m.

�We lost power at the source feed coming into town,� he said. �It was storm-related, so it was out of our control. We just had to wait for them to get it to hold.�

Various �little outages� were also experienced throughout the storm as well, but they were due to branches blowing on power lines and were minor incidents, Hayes said.

Heitkamp said microbursts are rare meteorological phenomena. High winds are generated when rain-cooled air from one storm collide with another. With the added force, the second storm can intensify, producing straight-line winds that scatter debris in tornado-like fashion.

�They�re not too frequent, but when they do occur, they are responsible for a lot of damage,� Heitkamp said.

Another storm system swept through the region Monday night, prompting a tornado warning in Yankton County. The Clay County area, however, escaped with little or no damage. Wind and hail damage was reported in the Freeman, Springfield, Lesterville, Dante and Lake Andes areas. Tornadoes were reported near Tabor and Ethan, but there were no reports of serious damage.

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