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Hailstorm hits St. Olaf campus

By David Gonnerman '90
August 30, 2006

A storm that included tennis-ball and larger sized hail hit the St. Olaf campus Thursday morning, leaving in its wake hundreds of damaged cars and damage to some college facilities. No serious injuries were reported at the college.

"We give thanks that no one was seriously injured and that the work of St. Olaf continues," wrote President David R. Anderson '74 in an e-mail message to faculty and staff after the storm. In a message on Friday Anderson wrote that no damage has been found that will prevent the college from welcoming new students Sept. 2 and starting classes Sept. 7, as scheduled.

The storm passed through the area late Thursday morning. College employees and visitors proceeded to storm shelters when they heard the city's severe storm sirens (including one located on campus).

Most vehicles on campus during the storm sustained major damage, including broken glass and extensive body damage from the hail.

The greatest structural damage on campus appears to be broken skylights in Steensland and a few broken outer glass skylight panes in Buntrock Commons (which were not broken all the way through). The Science Center's greenhouse also was damaged and windows in some other college buildings were broken or cracked. Slate roofing tiles were damaged and some areas have reported leaking roofs from the deluge that accompanied the hail.

Some areas of campus were left covered with a carpet of small branches and leaves, which the college's facilities staff started clearing as soon as the storm passed.

For an update on how the storm affected the rest of Northfield and for more storm photos, visit

StormGrnHs A few shards of glass are all that remain of the greenhouse roof at the Science Center.

Hail shredded the beautiful, 104-year-old stained glass ceiling of Steensland Hall.

All cars that were on campus during the hailstorm sustained damage, including these in the Skoglund parking lot.

Greg St. John, father of Preston '08 and Ryan '09 St. John, cleaned up his sons' car after the storm.

The storm left tennis-ball sized hail across campus.

Parts of campus were left covered by green leaves and branches, including this collection of ginkgo leaves by the Science Center.

Impact craters left by the large hailstones (reports vary from tennis ball to softball-sized chunks).

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or