(SD)-UPDATE - Sioux Falls Hit by 3 Tornadoes
UPDATE - The National Weather Service now says three tornadoes struck Sioux Falls overnight, the first time even one twister has struck the city in more than 18 years.
Lead meteorologist Todd Heitkamp at the agency's office in Sioux Falls tweets that he has determined three separate tornadoes struck South Dakota's largest city late Tuesday.
All three tornadoes were rated EF-2. One had peak winds of 130 mph while the other two had winds of about 125 mph. The 2001 tornado was in the weakest category - EF-0.
The storm hit just before midnight and damaged at least 37 structures. Mayor Paul TenHaken says the city is fortunate the damage and injury count wasn't worse.
SIOUX FALLS , S.D. (AP) - The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least one tornado hit Sioux Falls with a second area where a hospital complex suffered heavy damage still being examined to determine if it was hit by a second tornado or simply straight-line winds.
Together, the EF-2 tornado with winds of about 125 mph and its companion damaged at least 37 structures just before midnight. There are some reports of injuries, but no word on any fatalities. Mayor Paul TenHaken says the city is fortunate the damage and injury count isn't worse.
Among the stories emerging from the damage is the scramble to protect patients in several Avera Health hospitals.
David Flicek, the head of Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, says staff in one building had "10 minutes to wake up 102 residents" and move them to safety. Flicek says 7 people suffered minor injuries from falling debris at Avera facilities.
Sioux Falls officials urged citizens to stay off the streets until 8 a.m.as crews removed debris while the start of classes at all Sioux Falls schools was delayed 2 hours.
Xcel Energy says as many as 25,000 customers were without power at one point, but that number dropped about 2,100 customers by 6:30 a.m. and the Red Cross opened a shelter at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds armory for people displaced by the storm.
Sioux Falls was apparently the only part of South Dakota to be hit. State Dept of Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan says his office has not received other reports of destructive weather, although there was flooding in Hutchinson and Brule counties.
Hutchinson County Deputy Sheriff Maurice Waltner says the town of Parkston received 6 inches of rain, leading to moderate street flooding.
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