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Storms rip through Minnesota for second time in 6 days

Ominous storm clouds formed Monday, July 17, over Osakis, Minn. Contributed photo / Forum News Service1 / 3
Carlos Creek Winery posted this storm-damage photo on its Facebook page and is asking for volunteers to help with the clean-up. (Contributed) 2 / 3
Clouds made their way over Leech Lake in Walker during the thunderstorm Monday night. Thousands of residents in the Brainerd lakes area lost power from the storm. Submitted photo / Jerry Eklund3 / 3

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Tornado sirens sounded Monday night, July 17, as a severe thunderstorm rumbled through Douglas County and a powerful line of storms ripped through the Brainerd area, knocking down trees and power lines in its wake.

In Douglas County, there were several reports of trees and branches that were blown down.

Carlos Creek Winery was among the areas hit. So much debris was scattered about, the winery asked volunteers to help with cleanup Tuesday morning.

The Douglas County area was under tornado warnings starting at about 6:40 p.m. Monday and several CodeRed alerts advised residents to seek shelter from the thunderstorm. The storm produced sheets of heavy rain. Flooding from up to 3.2 inches of rainfall was reported near Brandon.

Weather spotters reported rotation in the threatening clouds but there were no confirmed reports of a tornado touching ground.

Along with the strong winds, hail was also reported in the county, including in the Carlos area.

Power outages also occurred. At the height of the storm, about 950 Runestone Electric Association members were without electricity. Crews were quickly dispatched and made good progress through the night. By 4 a.m. Tuesday, all power was restored.

REA stresses residents to stay away from downed power lines and never assume the lines are de-energized. Those who are still experiencing a power outage and have not called in to report their outage, should call (800) 473-1722.

This was the second strong storm system to move through the area in less than a week. A big storm caused significant tree and property damage in Douglas County on July 11.

Meanwhile, there were reports of numerous trees down throughout southern Cass and Crow Wing counties. The peak wind speed measured at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport was 52 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.

In addition to tree damage, the storm left thousands of people in the area without power. However, there were no reports of extensive damage to property. The National Weather Service received reports of sign damage in Nisswa and damage to a dock on Gull Lake.

Aitkin, Crow Wing and Cass counties were all under severe thunderstorm warnings between 4:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. Tornado warnings were issued for Morrison and Todd counties, but it wasn't known Monday night what damage, if any, occurred in those counties.

A trained spotter reported to the weather service hail a half-inch in size and estimated 50 mph winds a mile north of Fort Ripley. There were reports of trees down north of Leader in Cass County and trees down north of Baxter near Nashway Road and See Gull Road, both off Highway 371, south of Nisswa.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said overall Cass County didn't get hit hard from the impact of the storm. He said the northern part of the county didn't even get any rain. Burch said there were quite a few trees down in the southern part of the county, but Lake Shore was hit the hardest.

"We were able to get all the trees off the roads, so they are all open," Burch said just before 8 p.m. Monday. "There were some power lines down and some power outages in Lake Shore."

Lake Shore Police Chief Steve Sundstrom said there are a lot of power lines and trees down and a majority of the city residents have no power. He hopes the power will be restored sometime Tuesday.

"We are getting the roads so they are all passable," Sundstrom said about 8 p.m. Monday. "Nisswa firefighters helped us clear some trees and a guy came out with his Bobcat to help clear the roads."

Sundstrom said Upper Roy Lake Road had a lot of trees down in multiple areas.

"We are doing pretty good here, no one was hurt," Sundstrom said. "I was working on County Road 29 when the winds became excessive to where I would guess around 66-70 mph, but I'm not sure what the actual wind gusts was. It came through with one big gust and then just steady winds. It turned black and you could see it from the west. It went from being 91 degrees out to 68 degrees within minutes.

"It wasn't as bad as last year's storms."

Just before 6 p.m., the Crosby Fire Department was called as there were trees down and people trapped on Silkstone Drive, according to reports on the police scanner. The trees were removed and the people were able to get out.

About 6 p.m., as the storm moved out, upwards of 3,500 customers were without power across the lakes area, including large areas in Merrifield and the Round Lake/North Long Lake areas, along with a long swath along the Deerwood Shortcut (County Highway 12).

According to the Minnesota Power website about 8 p.m. Monday, there was five power outages affecting 1,461 customers north of Brainerd on Round Lake, eight power outages affecting 511 customers near the Crosby/Deerwood area, three outages affecting 562 customers southwest of Little Falls and 25 outages affecting 314 customers near Long Prairie.

During the same time, Crow Wing Power had a total of 55 power outages, with 785 households were out of power.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

(320) 763-1236
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