Two rounds of thunderstorms Friday, Aug. 14, drenched the Brainerd lakes area, with more than 2 inches of rain reported in some areas.
A flash flood watch was issued through midnight Friday by the National Weather Service in Duluth for portions of Cass and Crow Wing counties. The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport weather station recorded 2.07 inches of rain Friday. The flash flood watch was issued after the weather service forecast an additional 2-4 inches of rain possible through Saturday morning.
“... As a cold front approaches the Northland, thunderstorms may backbuild … leading to the potential for flash flooding,” the weather service stated.
A flood warning was issued for northern Cass County later Friday afternoon after an additional 2 inches of rainfall was reported in the areas of Leech Lake, Woman Lake, Longville, Federal Dam and Remer.
Lee Britt, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said Friday’s storms had the potential for damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall and could lead to localized flash flooding.
The National Weather Service’s forecast noted a possibility of wind gusts as high as 70 mph and hail as large as 1.5 inches in parts of northwest Minnesota and parts of northwest Wisconsin. The weather service reported the severe storms could knock down trees, causing power outages and lead to hazardous conditions to campers or others outdoors Hail could cause damage to vehicles and buildings.
A tornado warning was issued about 4:30 p.m. Friday for southeastern Todd and west-central Morrison counties after the National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado and quarter-sized hail was located near Browerville. Multiple additional tornado warnings were issued in the same vicinity, along with areas of northeastern Crow Wing and northwestern Aitkin counties.
As of Friday evening, there were no confirmed reports of tornadoes in the lakes area, but shortly after 8 p.m., the Aitkin County Sheriff's Office confirmed a tornado touched down near Lawler, a small community southeast of McGregor. A trained spotted reported a funnel cloud near Crosby at 6:28 p.m. Flooding appeared to be the main impact as a result of heavy rainfall. At 6:24 p.m., the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported flooding across the road on Highway 6 near Willow Lake. The parking lot at the Corner Store in Backus was also flooded, according to an eyewitness report.
The first lines of storms that rolled across the area early Friday morning were pretty uneventful for area power companies. Brainerd Public Utilities had no outages as of noon Friday. Crow Wing Power had fewer than 300 outages impacting their service area as of 2 a.m. Friday. By noon Friday everyone except four people had their power restored.
Char Kinzer, public relations manager at Crow Wing Power, said damage was minimal and the outages were mainly caused by trees down and lightning. The outages were sporadic in the Crow Wing Power service area.
A second line of storms brought heavy rain and wind caused more damage. Kinzer said about 1,000 customers were without power as storms hit Crow Wing County about 5 p.m., mainly from lightning and from wind as downed trees took out power lines. Kinzer said the number of customers without power continued to grow every half-hour until they numbered 1,720 by 6:45 p.m.
With crews working on cleanup, some large groups had power restored. By 7:25 p.m., about 250 customers were still without power. Most of the affected customers were in the Lake Shamineau area, south of Motley, Kinzer said. Farther north, about 50 customers remained without power by the Woman Lake area after 7:30 p.m.
After 7:30 p.m. Friday, Minnesota Power listed outages in Lake Shore affecting two customers and Irondale Township, affecting 31 customers. Power was expected to be restored about 9:30 p.m.
Sunshine returned to the Brainerd area after 7:30 p.m. as the line of strong storms continued to the east through Minnesota.
As of Aug. 4, Crow Wing and Cass counties finally made it out of the drought status. Meteorologist Britt said the northern portion of Crow Wing County and the eastern portion of Cass County were the last remaining areas of the two counties to come out of drought conditions.
According to the weather service, the lakes area has received 9.78 inches of rain since June 1, compared with 9.72 inches of rain during the same time period last year. Before Friday’s rain, only .78 of an inch fell in the Brainerd area for the month of August.
Forecast for Crow Wing County
Saturday: Sunny with a high near 77, with a west wind of 5-10 mph., with gusts as high as 20 mph. Saturday night low is expected to be about 54.
Sunday: Sunny with a high near 76 with a light northwest wind of about 5 to 10 mph, with a wind gust of 15 mph.