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With temperatures topping out at 89 degrees Tuesday, Austin Riewer did the next

Can lightning strike the same parking spot twice?

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News Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

There was plenty of sound and fury, but Tuesday morning’s thunderstorm brought little more for the Brainerd area than a brief respite from sweltering heat. 

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The exception was Lori Sargent, whose car was immobilized by a lightning strike during the thunderstorm.

Sargent, an employee at Mills Fleet Farm in Baxter, arrived at work at 9 a.m. Tuesday. By 9:02 a.m. her car had provided a bulls-eye for a bolt of lightning, which hit and obliterated her back antenna, blew out three of her tires and left divots in the surrounding pavement in the parking lot off Excelsior Road. 

“We heard the boom. The people at the Tire Center saw the lightning crack and the display. They said it looked like the Fourth of July,” Sargent said later Tuesday afternoon. 

While Sargant’s car battery appears OK — the radio and fan work — her vehicle won’t start and she figured her vehicle’s electrical system was damaged. 

Sargent parked in the same spot every day. Now she figures she’ll be choosing a new one. 

“They were all teasing me, saying nobody wants to park by me now,” Sargent said. “The timing of it is, I had angels watching over me. It was literally less than two minutes after I punched in.” She thanked fellow employees with giving her a ride home to Cushing. 

Areas to the south — from Mille Lacs County to St. Cloud to the northern Twin Cities — took the brunt of Tuesday morning’s storm, with reports of 1-inch diameter hail, near-60 mph winds, trees uprooted or snapped and power knocked out, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. 

In Brainerd, the thunderstorm rolled in about 8 a.m. and dropped about .72 inches of rain, according to measurements by the weather observation station at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. Steve Gohde, observing program leader at the National Weather Service in Duluth, said the Pillager area had about 1.3 inches of rain. 

A flash flood warning was issued for eastern Morrison County and Mille Lacs County Tuesday afternoon after rainfall rates of 1.5 to 2 inches fell during the slow moving storm, the weather service reported. Harding topped the list with 3.5 inches of rain. 

While the Brainerd area survived the storm pretty much unscathed, it will have to wait at least another day to beat the heat. 

The excessive heat warning remains in effect until 10 p.m. Wednesday for Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Todd and Wadena counties with a heat index of 100 degrees to 110 degrees possible. The high  Wednesday is expected to be 90 to 95 degrees. On Thursday, temperatures are expected to ease, with a high between 80 and 85.

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