Likely tornado, high winds cause damage in South Dakota

Severe weather, including a probable tornado, struck eastern South Dakota leaving a trail of damaged buildings. Businesses that sustained damage included an Advanced Auto Parts store where a wall collapsed. 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Severe weather, including a probable tornado, struck eastern South Dakota leaving a trail of damaged buildings, downed power lines, fallen trees and some reports of injuries, officials said Wednesday.

Fire Chief Brad Goodroad said at an early morning news conference today that at least 37 structures collapsed in Sioux Falls or have structural issues following the storm that struck just before midnight Tuesday. There were no reports of any fatalities.

National Weather Service lead meteorologist Todd Heitkamp in Sioux Falls says surveyors will work with the light of day to confirm a tornado caused the damage. Heitkamp says most damage likely was caused by strong straight-line winds.

Sioux Falls schools delayed classes today as crews worked to clear debris, and city officials in Sioux Falls urged citizens to stay off the streets until 8 a.m.

Among the buildings sustaining damage was Avera Behavioral Health. The storm ripped off part of the hospital's roof and caused significant damage to the building's windows, according to Avera spokeswoman Michelle Pellman.

"Seven Behavioral Health patients have been transferred to the Avera Heart Hospital," Pellman said. "Only one patient suffered an injury and it was non-life threatening."

The Avera Heart Hospital also had damage to its lobby and windows, but all patients are safe, Pellman told the Argus Leader. She said people should stay away from the area because of flooding and debris concerns.

Businesses that sustained damage included an Advanced Auto Parts store where a wall collapsed. Kohl's and Best Buy lost part of their roofs and Pizza Ranch suffered heavy damage.

Xcel Energy says as many as 25,000 customers were without power at one point because of the damage, but that number dropped about 2,100 customers by 6:30 a.m.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds' armory for people displaced by the storm.

Sioux Falls, with an estimated population of 187,200, is located about 240 miles southwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

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