Storms cause damage in Brainerd lakes area

6:29 PM, May 31, 2011   |    comments
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  • Photo Courtesy Park Rapids Enterprise
  • Photo Courtesy Park Rapids Enterprise
  • Photo Courtesy Park Rapids Enterprise
  • Photo Courtesy Park Rapids Enterprise

PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. -- A severe thunderstorm and strong winds caused significant damage across parts of north central Minnesota late Monday night.

In the Hubbard County community of Park Rapids, roofs were ripped off buildings, trees were pulled out of the ground and power poles knocked down.  Much of the community was left without power or hardline phone service Tuesday morning.  

Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service in Grand Forks say straight line winds on the leading edge of the thunder storm system caused the majority of the damage. Crews will conduct an assessment to evaluate the damage caused by the storm and determine whether a tornado was present.

The Park Rapids School District canceled classes for the day Tuesday.

Resident Dick Rutherford told the Park Rapids Enterprise that he is convinced it was a tornado that hurled parts of the roof from Casey's General Store into his parking lot across Highway 34.

Rutherford's business and home suffered extensive damage. A TV antenna tower toppled, a trailer holding appliances and other objects was lifted and tossed into the middle of his business lot and tree branches littered his yard - as if you could tell.

"I've got a mess," Rutherford said, surveying his damage.

The Hubbard County fair's grandstand roof landed in on a home daycare center almost a block away.

"It came happened so quickly, it was over as quickly as it started," said Trilla Olson, whose yard was covered by 50-foot trees.

The National Weather Service says winds in the Brainerd Lakes area were blowing at more than 60 mph around 11:30 p.m.

Downed power lines and trees were reported in Nisswa, Pillager and Pequot Lakes. The Brainerd Airport reported winds gusting to 60 mph.

Heavy rain was reported at the Aitkin Airport. Some ponding of water was reported in Aitkin as well.

To the northwest, strong storms Monday night knocked out power to an estimated 26,000 people in the Fargo area, along with hundreds more in rural areas.

The National Weather Service says the storms packed winds as strong as 70 mph. They blew the roofs off buildings in southwest Fargo, knocked a telephone pole onto a car in that city and a tree onto a car in neighboring Moorhead, Minn., damaged trees in Forman and Barney and knocked over a semitrailer on Interstate 94 east of Moorhead.

The Forum newspaper reports that there were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

The Grand Forks Herald reports that the weather delayed Amtrak trains heading west into western Minnesota and North Dakota late Monday, and also delayed Delta flights to the city.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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