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Hail hammers lakes area

Hail, some nearly the size of tennis balls, crashed through windows and pounded dents into vehicles about 10 miles south of Brainerd Wednesday night.

Hail the size of golf balls, large eggs and nearly tennis ball size fell during Wednesday night's storm south of Brainerd. Hair landing at Crow Wing Lake Campground was kept in the freezer.
Hail the size of golf balls, large eggs and nearly tennis ball size fell during Wednesday night's storm south of Brainerd. Hail landing at Crow Wing Lake Campground was kept in the freezer.

Hail, some nearly the size of tennis balls, crashed through windows and pounded dents into vehicles about 10 miles south of Brainerd Wednesday night.

Crow Wing Lake Campground, just off Highway 371, received warnings a storm was coming. Coni Trusty, who owns the campground with her husband Phil, watched the storm clouds approach stabbed by frequent lightning and rumbling with thunder.

"You could see it and hear it coming, you just didn't expect it to be that intense," she said, particularly noting the size of the hail, which came in two waves lasting five minutes. "It's the biggest hail I've ever seen and been in."

They took photos and saved the large hailstones in the freezer. Trusty said they rivaled the size of eggs, golf balls and some nearly as large as a tennis ball.

The storm blew in about 9 p.m. By the light of day, the felled trees were visible along with a tent in a tree and at least one heavily damaged camper. The Ryden family came out of the shelter to find their pop-up camper flipped on its top with its wheels facing the sky and their tent up in a tree. The hail smashed out windows on campers and cars.

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Trusty said some of their more than 200 guests sought shelter in the campground store, in shower buildings that serve as shelters. Others remained in their campers. It was all over in about 15 minutes. Trusty said it felt like being inside a bingo machine. But she said it was nothing compared to the damage the residents near Gull Lake were dealing with after the July 12 supercell storm.

"I was just glad everyone was safe," Trusty said.

Her husband, Phil, was out since early morning working with a chain saw on fallen trees. Coni Trusty said campground guests were quick to help and pick up rakes. Others, not currently staying at the campground, heard about the storm and offered to assist with their own chain saws.

Coni Trusty was baking pizzas Thursday afternoon for everyone who was helping.

"It's so humbling," she said of the response from guests who were paying to be there and were offering to jump in and work. "It's just incredible. We just have great campers. We're just so happy no one was hurt. I can't imagine what those people on Gull Lake went through."

Stormy night

Two storms swept through the lakes area hours apart with the last one clearing out before 3 a.m. and .22 inches of rain at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. But a Brainerd Co-Op observer reported .73 inches of rain. And an observer seven miles northwest of Brainerd reported 1.26 inches of rain. Cloudy skies cut into the chance to see one of the best peak Perseid meteor showers in years.

Instead of watching streaks of light across the night sky, people were measuring chunks of ice.

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One-inch hail was reported six miles north of Camp Ripley and hail estimated at 2.5 inches fell in Morrison County about 12 miles north-northeast of Randall. The National Weather Service received reports of piles of large hail still in the ditches Thursday morning. A trained spotter measured 2.75-inch hail in Crow Wing County north of Fort Ripley, where the largest hail was baseball size. Hail was reported in Crow Wing State Park as well.

Near Roseau, in northern Minnesota, there were reports of softball size hail and damaging winds in many areas. The weather service reported a "very warm and humid airmass combined with a disturbance near the surface and mid levels of the atmosphere to produce the severe weather."

The weather service also received reports of hail up to 2 inches in Cass County. Numerous trees were reported down and at least one road reported blocked near Poplar. Near Leader, a 10-inch diameter oak tree split in half. A trained spotter measured a wind gust at 63 mph near Lake Shore. In Motley, a few trees were reported down with one severing a power line about 1:14 a.m. during the second storm.

Across the state, storm damage was also reported near Cambridge in Isanti County.

Today, the National Weather Service may have people thinking about a different kind of ice as it is advising those who will be active under the sun to take precautions because of the heat.

Heat and humidity is expected to stick in the lakes area through Saturday with heat indexes in the 90s before a cool down arrives Sunday. The weather service reported the next chance of widespread rain is Saturday night.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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Related Topics: WEATHER
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