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Tornado tears through northern Wis. resort as severe weather pounds region

 WAUSAU, Wis. _ Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore through the Upper Midwest on Thursday, damaging homes and a resort, producing baseball-size hail and dropping more than 6 inches of rain in some areas.

A twister devastated the Bear Paw Resort near Langlade in northern Wisconsin, and nearby homes might also have been damaged, the Langlade County Sheriff's Department said.

The rustic resort, which runs along the Wolf River, allows camping and includes cabins and a kayaking business. There was a report of a kayak slicing through a pine tree.

"The resort was leveled," said Gina Panzica of Langlade County Rural Fire Control.

At least five tornadoes were reported in Wisconsin, and the storms injured at least four people, none seriously, officials said.

Hailstones 4 inches wide fell in Wisconsin Rapids, knocking out the windshield of a police car, said Karen Ryun, a dispatcher.

A tornado damaged several lake homes near Elizabeth, in western Minnesota, said Judy Siggerud, dispatch supervisor for Otter Tail County. No injuries were reported.

"My husband was pulling some lawn furniture off of our deck, when all of a sudden a black cloud came out right in front of us," said Claudia Boelter, who took cover in a neighbor's house. "We ran next door, and I looked out their living room window. I could see this cloud that was down on the lake, rotating and pulling water up."

Hail the size of golf balls was reported in parts of Minnesota.

In North Dakota, where the storms began late Wednesday, heavy rain washed out roads. Bowman County emergency manager Dean Pearson said he had reports of 1 1/2 to 6 1/4 inches of rain overnight.

"We've got some roads that are washed out and some areas that are still running over the roadway," Pearson said. "It's been slow getting started (to assess the damage) because it's so muddy that it's hard to get around."

Most of the rain stayed to the west or north of Fargo, which was fighting back the rising Red River, said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. The Red River flows northward.

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Associated Press writer Dave Kolpack in Fargo, N.D., contributed to this report.

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