Storms shut off power for thousands Monday
A line of powerful thunderstorms roared through the Brainerd lakes area Monday night, darkening skies for commuters headed home from work. Damage assessments were still being completed Tuesday morning in Crow Wing County, said John Bowen, emergen...
A line of powerful thunderstorms roared through the Brainerd lakes area Monday night, darkening skies for commuters headed home from work.
Damage assessments were still being completed Tuesday morning in Crow Wing County, said John Bowen, emergency management director. Damage seems to be heaviest in north Gull Lake in the area of Grand View Lodge, he said, and in the Upper Roy Lake Road area. There were areas throughout the county with trees and power lines down, he said.
Bowen said he wasn't aware of any injuries, but he did hear a few reports of smaller trees falling on garages in the county.
"Overall, I think we fared pretty well," Bowen said.
This storm wasn't as severe as notable ones in July 2015 and June 2016, but it's still a good reminder to keep an eye on the sky and take time to check the weather forecast, Bowen said.
"There's a chance, I think, for thunderstorms this whole week," Bowen said. "Take a little extra time and make sure that it's safe."
The Brainerd Fire Department responded to a few calls while the storms were rolling through the area.
Crews were called at 5:22 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Highway 371 and See Gull Road for a downed power line. Firefighters determined the call was unfounded.
Crews were called at 5:59 p.m. Monday to Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes for a fire alarm. Firefighters determined the alarm was a maintenance issue.
Crews were called at 6:13 p.m. to the 4800 block of Mapleton Road for a vehicle fire. Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire was out.
Crews were called at 7:53 p.m. to the 400 block of C Street for a report of a gas smell. Upon arrival, firefighters determined the call was unfounded.
The damage in Morrison County was minimal, said Victoria Ingram, emergency management/communications supervisor. There were reports of a few trees down and larger tree branches, she said, and localized standing water on roads, but no flooding. There were also reports of marble-sized hail throughout the county. The areas with localized damage seemed to be in the southwest portion of Little Falls and by Pierz, she said.
"No area was significantly hit, which we were very happy about," Ingram said.
Despite a tornado warning, there were no reports from weather spotters of tornadoes or funnel clouds, Ingram said, just a few reports of wall clouds. There were no reports of power outages, flooding or public safety hazards, she said.
"We fared very well, we were lucky," Ingram said.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, there were 29 Crow Wing Power customers without power, said Char Kinzer, public relations manager. This was down from a peak of about 2,800 customers without power Monday night.
The west side of upper Gull Lake seemed to be the hardest hit area, Kinzer said, including Lake Shore and Nisswa. There were a lot of customers without power early Monday evening in the Merrifield area, she said, because of a transmission line outage. But the outage was quickly fixed and those customers had their power restored, she said.
A common issue in thunderstorms is downed trees sparking when they fall on power lines, Kinzer said, but those issues weren't too bad Monday. Overall, cleanup hasn't been too difficult, she said, partly due to the experience cleaning up after major storms the past two summers.
"This was a piece of cake," Kinzer said. "We're getting really good at it."
According to Minnesota Power's online outage monitor, as of noon Tuesday, there were about 350 customers without power in the Lake Shore area. Kelley Eldien, senior communications specialist, said this was down from a peak of about 3,000 customers without power 5 p.m. Monday in Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Lake Shore.
At daybreak Tuesday, Minnesota Power called in an additional tree clearing crew, Eldien said, because more damage became evident in the daylight. Additional line crews were called in from Duluth to relieve crews who worked through the night, she said, to restore power by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A couple power poles were lost and needed to be replaced, Eldien said, but most of the restoration work involved clearing trees from power lines. Minnesota Power was able to restore most of the outages by daybreak Tuesday, she said.
There were about 200 Brainerd Public Utilities customers without power last night, said Scott Magnuson, superintendent. The outages were spread throughout Brainerd, he said, and not concentrated in one pocket.
Except for a handful of customers who needed to call an electrician, those customers had their power restored by 11:30 p.m. Monday, Magnuson said. When a tree falls on a service line running from a power pole to a house, the homeowner has to call an electrician to fix the connection at the house before power can be restored, he said.