June 26, 2013

The storms that swept Audubon County late Monday morning and pushed over an eight-story grain dryer and flipped farm buildings also knocked out electrical power to 1,858 MidAmerican Energy customers, said Abby Bottenfield, a spokeswoman for the company.

In the city of Audubon - which has a population of about 2,170 - there was a peak of 1,315 customers without power due to the storm, which whipped the town for about 30 minutes starting at 11 a.m.

A National Weather Service observer estimated the peak wind speeds at about 70 mph.

The collapsed West Central Cooperative grain dryer severed a natural-gas line that forced people nearby to flee their houses and businesses. City workers and police officers rerouted traffic on U.S. Highway 71 - along which the dryer sits - for more than an hour. The highway reopened at 12:30 p.m.

No one was injured.

Two MidAmerican customers were without natural-gas service while workers capped the leak, Bottenfield said.

Despite at least one resident report of a funnel cloud - which can be a precursor to a tornado - weather service meteorologists have said the damage was the result of strong, straight-line winds that felled trees and branches in most of Audubon.