Monday night storm destroys Eitzen barn

Karl Stokman of rural Eitzen stands in the area that used to be a 62 by 126-foot pole barn that was destroyed by straight winds Monday night. Photo by Charlie Warner

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

While it was officially the last day of winter, the record-breaking heat the Tri-State area has been enjoying for more than a week spawned some violent June-like weather Monday night.

Around 9 p.m. a very strong squall line moved through the Coulee Region, causing damage to an isolated area near Eitzen on the Minnesota-Iowa line.

A 62 by 126-foot pole barn on the Karl and Jean Stokman farm located on the south edge of Eitzen, was completely destroyed by what is believed to have been a micro burst straight wind.

The intense wind pulled the metal roof off the barn in large sections, several of which were deposited on the Stokman’s two-story home several hundred feet away. Several of the massive 6 by 6-inch posts that supported the barn, were pulled out of five-foot deep holes.

The Stokmans were home when the storm hit. Karl said he heard a loud thud and felt the house move when a large section of the pole barn roof landed on the house.

The large power pole that provided electricity to the farm was snapped in two and the Stokmans were without power.

“I thought it was snow in the yard,” Karl said midday Tuesday. “It was so dark out without the yard light and I saw all this white all over the yard.”

It didn’t take Karl long to discover the yard was littered with the white metal roof panels from the pole barn.

“I called up my son Rob to see if they had any damage and he was at the Eitzen Fire Hall,” Karl continued. Rob Stokman is a member of the Eitzen Volunteer Fire Department. “When I told him I thought we may have been hit by a tornado, they sounded the siren in Eitzen.”

The weather alert siren in Caledonia was sounded moments later.

Friends and neighbors arrived around sunrise to help the Stokmans clean up what was left of the pole barn, which had been scattered all over their yard. Electricity service was restored shortly before noon.

No one was hurt and the damage to the house wasn’t real serious. Karl got up in the attic and found six of the roof rafters had been broken when a large section of the pole barn roof hit the house. From the ground, the only visible sign that the roof had taken a direct hit was a dark line across a portion of the shingles.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Karl said with a shrug. “We’ll get through this.”

There were a few other reports of pieces of metal roofs pulled from barns in the Eitzen area, but it appeared is if the Stokman farm experienced the most damage.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]