Storm causes massive power outages, knocks down trees
Twisted trees, cracked power lines and dark houses were left behind following Monday night's powerful storm that ripped through the Brainerd lakes area.
Thousands were left without power in the overnight hours, and even into the night hours of Monday.
"I've never seen that many outages," said Kelley Eldien, senior communication specialist with Minnesota Power.
The company saw about 10,000 outages at its peak, spanning its whole service area of International Falls to Little Falls.
"It's unusual for us for it to hit across the entire service area," Eldien said. "Typically outages
are in one area."
Hit the hardest was Nisswa, Eldien said, where 2,000 houses were still without power Monday morning.
Crow Wing Power had 4,400 outages at its peak, with 2,300 still out Monday morning in the communities north of Brainerd.
Both companies expected power to be fully restored by midnight Monday.
Only one Brainerd Public Utilities customer lost power when a tree toppled on the power line connecting to the house.
It's not often that a wind storm such as Monday night's sweeps across the region, said Kevin Huyck, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Duluth.
Only a couple hit the nation every year, he said. The last similar wind storm in central Minnesota was July 2012.
"It was a pretty big storm," he said. "We're fortunate we don't get wind storms like this frequently."
Wind gusts ranged from 50 to 70 mph across the Brainerd lakes area. For perspective, a category one hurricane has winds of 74 mph, Huyck said.
There hasn't been any evidence of tornado touchdowns, though NWS officials are still assessing damage and photos, Huyck said.
The storm didn't bring much rain, though. Most totals ranged around half an inch, according to the NWS.
The hardest hit areas were Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point, where several trees and power lines were down, some hitting houses and garages, Huyck said.
Aitkin saw 70 mph winds. A pontoon was flipped over on Horseshoe Lake in Crosslake.
Part of the roof of Staples Auto in Staples was torn off, causing a gas leak and temporary evacuation of the immediate area, according to the Staples Police Department.
Brainerd had trees down on Pine and South Ninth streets. A power line pole was down on Ojibwe Road.
"It's quite a mess," said Char Kinzer, public relations manager for Crow Wing Power.
Among the properties that saw damage was a 17-acre lot owned by Ben and Karen Baloun of 8945 Red Oak Road, located about four miles south of Nisswa.
Karen Baloun said a massive tree came down and destroyed the roof of a two-story garage at their property, along with many other trees along the property.
"Our property was devastated," she said.
The sound of chainsaws was prevalent Tuesday morning in the Balouns' neighborhood, she said, noting that her husband cut and moved three trees to clear the road.
On Wienzel Point Road near Lake Shore, trees toppled on top of houses and across a boat lift, residents reported.
No injuries have been reported, several police officials said.