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Three waves of severe thunderstorms batter F-M area

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UPDATED: 10:45 a.m.

Three waves of severe thunderstorms pummeled parts of eastern North Dakota, including the Fargo-Moorhead area, overnight, and authorities are just now getting into the field to assess damages.

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"We're still looking," said Mark Ewens, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

Ewens said when storms like this happen overnight, it's hard to know how much damage might have occurred until the morning when people get up and can look around.

Reports of a tornado touching down in Cass County's Reile's Acres last night turned out not to be true, said Jim Thoreson, Cass County Sheriff's Office chief deputy.

Thoreson said there were no damage reports there or in North River, where another tornado was reported.

Power outages were reported in Tower City and Buffalo. An arcing wire caused by a fallen tree branch was reported in Casselton, he said.

"We really were pretty darn lucky with three storms like that," Thoreson said.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation reported wind gusts of 67 mph around 4:40 a.m. near Buffalo in western Cass County.

Ewens said they also plan to check out possible wind damage in the Dazey area of Barnes County.

A woman who answered the phone in the Barnes County Sheriff's Office said they had not yet heard any official reports of damage in the county.

Additionally, National Weather Service meteorologist Len Peterson said it was not immediately known whether it was a tornado that destroyed a barn in the Balfour area in McHenry County.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, there were reports of baseball-size hail in Saw-yer and major street flooding in Drake. In Munich, wind gusting up to an estimated 80 mph uprooted trees 2 feet in diameter.

Weather Service officials in Bismarck and Grand Forks said they had no immediate reports of injuries.

A house at 404 4th Ave. N.W. in Dilworth was hit by lightning last night.

It smoked a little bit but with the heavy rain, did not catch fire, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

The lightning blew some holes in the roof, which had to be covered with tarp, he said.

The Weather Service estimates about an inch and a half of rain had fallen so far in Cass County as of about 8:30 a.m.

Ewens said this storm moved through the area in three waves: between 1 and 1:30 a.m., between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. and again between 6:30 and 7 a.m.

Emergency sirens woke many in the F-M area during the first wave of activity, warning of possible tornadoes. Rain, thunder, lightning and strong winds have continued, and the area is still under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.

We're not out of the woods yet, either. There's still a thunderstorm threat for later today, Ewens said.

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