- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Hundreds of utility crews restored power Wednesday to tens of thousands of customers who lost service when powerful storms rolled through southern Minnesota, toppling power lines and trees and causing flash flooding and damage from golf ball-sized hail.

But by 6 p.m., Xcel Energy reported that around 38,000 customers were still without power, down from about 130,000 who lost power in Tuesday night’s storms. Most of those were in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs, but the swath extended from St. Cloud in central Minnesota into western Wisconsin. Xcel said that due to the extent of the damage, it didn’t have an estimate on when service would be fully restored.

The storms produced winds of up to 80 mph, ripping siding off homes in St. Michael and Prior Lake and knocking over large trees, according to the National Weather Service. A tornado touched down near Appleton in western Minnesota, the weather service reported. It also confirmed that a tornado touched down east of Dennison in southeastern Minnesota around 8 p.m. Tuesday, and another touched down about a half-hour later near Lake City.

The storms also damaged U.S. Bank Stadium as they raced through downtown Minneapolis. More than a dozen black zinc exterior panels came loose. Minnesota Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team was working with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority on a permanent fix.

Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen noted that this wasn’t the first time that panels have come loose, and the stadium has thousands of them. The contractor will repair them at no cost to taxpayers, she said.

The damage isn’t expected to delay the opening of the stadium. An open house is set for July 23-24. An International Cup soccer match will be the first sporting event on Aug. 3.

The rain fell fast and furiously and submerged intersections and streets in the Twin Cities metro. First responders in Fridley rescued five to six people from their vehicles when the water quickly rose 4 to 5 feet.

The storm delayed the Minnesota Twins game at Target Field by about three hours; it finally got underway about 10 p.m.

About 80 flights were delayed Tuesday night at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and four were diverted to avoid the fast-moving storms.

The threat of more rough weather loomed. The weather service said two more rounds of severe weather were possible Thursday.

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