Flash flooding strands Rochester motorists

Published 10:58 am Friday, August 23, 2013

ROCHESTER — A sudden deluge of rain flooded downtown Rochester streets, stranded motorists and created traffic jams as drivers tried to make their way to work Thursday.

About 2 inches of rain fell in less than an hour in some areas around the city, including Mantorville, forecasters said.

Rochester police put up detours around flooded streets, and at least eight vehicles were stalled in water up to their headlights in one area. Some vehicles floated down the street, according to Rochester police.

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The heaviest rainfall appeared to be located near downtown, where the lobby at Mayo Clinic’s Charlton Building flooded with knee-high water. Crews worked to remove the water.

As the storm developed, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for central Olmsted County. Three homes were struck by lightning, according to Rochester fire officials. One of the strikes ignited some window curtains, but the fire was quickly put out.

Wind gusts of 50 miles per hour were reported in downtown Rochester, and tree damage occurred.

The storm also caused damage as it moved east through Eyota, where trees were twisted and power lines knocked down. Officials are investigating the possibility that a tornado touched down.