A tornado struck Sioux Falls, South Dakota, late Tuesday, causing “significant structural damage” and massive power losses in the city, the mayor and other officials said.
Sioux Falls officials asked people not to travel because of downed power lines and trees, and Mayor Paul TenHaken shared a photo of a devastated auto-parts store along with a tweet stating, “there is significant structural damage like this across our city.”
“Please stay off the roads — there’s a lot of people that either are still on the roads who didn’t get off in time for the storm or are back on to see the damage,” TenHaken said in a video from an emergency operations center.
“You need to stay off the roads. There’s severe power outages throughout the city,” he said.
The tornado struck around 11:30 p.m. on the south side of Sioux Falls, said National Weather Service Science and Operations Officer Phil Schumacher.
But forecasters won’t know the extent of the damage, the storm’s track or its intensity until assessment teams view the area in the morning, he said.
Schumacher said that officials are aware that homes and businesses had been damaged but had not heard of any injuries being reported.
The Argus Leader newspaper of Sioux Falls reported that the tornado ripped off part of the roof of Avera Heart Hospital, but that staff said there were no reports of injuries there.
The tornado hit as strong thunderstorms moved through. At an airport about six miles from where the twister touched down, a wind gust of 62 mph was reported, but Schumacher said that was from thunderstorms and not from the tornado.
Utility company Xcel Energy said on its website that more than 12,200 customers were without power early Wednesday.
The area faces possible flash flooding due to rain. West of Sioux Falls there had been reports of between 3 to 5 inches of rain early Wednesday, Schumacher said.
“People should really, if they see any roads flooded please just turn around,” he said.