The odds were in Morrison County’s favor Thursday, Sept. 16, when severe thunderstorms rolled through central and northern Minnesota.
The thunderstorms created high wind gusts, hail and parts of the state saw funnel clouds circling around. The National Weather Service in Chanhassen received several reports of hail, including hail as large as tennis balls in Morrison County.
Meteorologist Brent Hewett in Chanhassen said the largest hail reports its office received was 2.5 inch hail reported 5 miles southeast of Camp Ripley — the size of a tennis ball. There also were several reports of hail an inch to an inch and three-quarters in size reported in other parts of Morrison County and on the south side of Mille Lacs Lake.
“We had several rounds of storms that moved through that area,” Hewett said of the storm going through Mille Lacs County. “We also had several reports of funnel clouds in the Morrison and Mille Lacs county areas, including videos of funnel clouds. But none of our spotters reported any tornadoes that made it to the ground. From what we saw on the radar there was a potential, but we never had any confirmation of any tornadoes on the ground, so that is good news.
“There was a lot of hail, like I said, in the Camp Ripley area through to the small town of Vineland. We also had a half dollar size hail report in Bayview, on the south side of Mille Lacs Lake.”
“We were lucky,” Morrison County Emergency Manager Victoria MacKissock said of the storm. “It definitely wanted to start something, but based on what it could have been and what we ended up with was just a busy night of hail, some wind damage and stuff, but we were very lucky.”
MacKissock said they had a couple of different storm fronts come through the county. The eastern part of the county received smaller, quarter-sized hail.
“We had some damage to private property with the storms, but luckily it wasn’t anything significant,” MacKissock said. “The bigger thing with the storms that rolled in was that we had two tornado warnings. The warnings were downgraded and then we had severe thunderstorms ... but the bigger thing was the hail that we had. We were tracking the funnel clouds, but we were lucky because we didn’t have any reports of touchdowns.”
Morrison County had wind gusts up to 35 mph; the Brainerd area saw up to 42 mph; and the Minneapolis Airport saw up to 64 mph.
“Leading up to the event (Thursday) a lot of the severe weather was going to be over northern to north central Minnesota,” Hewett said. “But by evening it was more north central, central Minnesota. Then south central Minnesota, in the Twin Cities metro area, produced a lot of wind damage, so it definitely was a long night for us. There were a lot of trees down, lots of reports of trees uprooted or ones that snapped.”
Hewett said the storms were fast moving so not a lot of rain fell in the state. He said on average about a quarter to a half inch of rain fell over most parts of the state. Higher amounts fell in St. Cloud, with 1.05 inches of rain; Mora, 1.74 inches; and 1.68 inches in Milaca.
The Brainerd area received about .32th of an inch of rain from Thursday’s storm.
The weather service issued a tornado watch for Crow Wing County and surrounding communities shortly before 6 p.m. The areas received rain, hail and lightning. One storm spotter reported dime-sized hail in Brainerd.
Meteorologist Ketzel Levens, out of the National Weather Service office in Duluth, said they also had no reported touchdown tornadoes in the region the Duluth office monitors.
“At one point, there was a line of storms that stretched pretty much across the entire length of the state of Minnesota from the international border down to southern Minnesota,” Levens said. “It was a frontal system that pushed the storms through and the winds were steering some of the storms really along the boundaries rather than perpendicular to it. So, in this case, the storms sort of train along the boundary, and you get them consistently popping up and moving along on that cold front.”
Detailed forecast for Crow Wing County:
Saturday: Sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. South wind 5 to 15 mph with gusts to around 25 mph. Mostly clear at night with lows near 60. South wind 5 to 15 mph.
Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower to mid 80s. South wind 10 to 20 mph. Increasing clouds at night, with a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the lower to mid 60s.
Monday: Showers and a chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 70s. Chance of precipitation 80%. Rain showers likely at night, with lows near 50. Chance of showers 70%.
Tuesday: Partly sunny with a 30% chance of rain showers. Highs near 60.