The severe summer storm didn't seem to pack feared damaging winds locally, but it certainly produced heavy and damaging rain.
The Brainerd Family YMCA reported it sustained significant damage from water and flooding throughout the entire facility from Friday night's storm. A ServPro vehicle, specializing in fire and water cleanup was parked outside the YMCA on Oak Street in Brainerd Saturday, July 18.
Roughly between 10 p.m., when the storm arrived in earnest in the Brainerd area, and 4 a.m., the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport received 3.29 inches of rain. The downpour, sheets of rain from the north, was too much for storm drains to keep up with, flooding city streets. Some unsuspecting drivers who drove into the water, in north Brainerd and on Washington Street, were left with stalled cars.
About 11:30 p.m. residents along Juniper Street were out wading in knee-deep dark water on city streets checking storm drains and were unable to find obstructions. It was just too much rain, too fast. Streets illuminated by frequent lightning flashes resembled rivers with water lapping into yards and tiny whirlpools, the size of dinner plates, forming over storm drains.
At the Washington and Eighth Street intersection in Brainerd, police squad cars took up posts on either side in an attempt to slow traffic as water pooled in driving lanes. A stalled car sat in the Crow Wing Food Co-Op parking lot as the driver tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to start it.
With the flashing lights from the squad cars, vehicles slowed to navigate the water and stayed in the center lanes of the four-lane highway through the city.
By midnight, the storm drains were able to catch up and the water on flooded streets receded.
The National Weather Service storm reports listed flooding as the main concern in the lakes area. Power lines were reported down in Hackensack and in Staples with wind damage taking down trees. In Menahga, winds were estimated to be 70-80 mph with damage reported to a building. Wind gusts east of Jenkins were reported at 47 mph. One-inch hail was reported in Verndale. Near Milaca, there were reports of several 800-pound hay bales blown around and farm equipment thrown around. Wind gusts of 62 mph were reported just as the storm blew in 5 miles east of Inguadona in Cass County.
3 inches in Official rain gauge of national weather service in Baxter MN pic.twitter.com/pvBFq8lnh7— Mike Bialka (@bertsballpark) July 18, 2020
Early reports on rainfall included:
- 5 inches 3 miles east of Brainerd,
- 5 inches in St. Mathias,
- 4.30 inches in Deerwood,
- 3.30 inches in East Gull Lake,
- 3.23 inches in Baxter, with other Baxter locations reporting 2.51 inches,
- 3 inches in Pine River,
- 3 inches in Jenkins,
- 2.80 inches in Pillager,
- 2.70 inches in Merrifield,
- 1.96 inches in Breezy Point.
Friday brought temperatures in the 90s and nearly 50% humidity. Saturday cleared to provide sun and blue skies in the morning, by afternoon the clouds returned along with the potential for another round of strong to severe, if scattered, thunderstorms. By 3:30 p.m. Saturday, temperatures were again in the mid-80s. The National Weather Service in Duluth noted Saturday's storms may arrive between 4-7 p.m. in central Minnesota, including Cass, Crow Wing, Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties.
Areas of Minnesota from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities to the southern border were in heat advisories or excessive heat warnings again Saturday with hot and humid weather and heat indices up to 109.