Powerful weekend storms sweep lakes area

Wind, hail, heavy rain and strong winds feature in series of thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday across Central Minnesota.

Graphic courtesy National Weather Service in Duluth.

A series of powerful thunderstorms rolled across the Brainerd lakes area Saturday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, bringing heavy rain, strong winds, hail and reports of funnel clouds.

Tornado sirens were sounded about 2 p.m. Saturday in northern Crow Wing County and central Cass County after the National Weather Service in Duluth received information from a trained weather spotter of funnel clouds forming near Pine River.

Steve Gohde, observing program leader with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said based on photos of cloud rotation the weather spotted submitted, meteorologists could not substantiate the report of funnels or tornados in the Pine River and Backus areas.

“Looking at the clouds, and the structure, the spotter indicated strong rotation but we can’t confirm that,” said Gohde Sunday afternoon. “Based on our evaluation, there was no indication of a funnel cloud.”

There were, however, several reports Saturday of strong winds, heavy rain and hail. Hardest hit appeared to Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County, where the weather service received reports of downed trees as well as overturned docks and boat lifts.


Hail ranging in size from 3/4 to 1 inch were reported in Aitkin, Backus, Pine River, and Swanburg. There were also reports of isolated flash flooding, Gohde said.

While Brainerd missed most of Saturday afternoon’s storm, another line rolling through the area early Sunday left behind about a quarter inch of rain.

More rain was expected Sunday night as a cold front moved through the area, Gohde said. As of Sunday afternoon, the storm had the potential for strong winds, localized flooding and hail, according to the weather service.

“We’ll be keeping an eye out west,” where Sunday night’s storms are expected to develop, Gohde said.

Most pleasant weather is expected to kick off the week, with sunny skies and a high temperature of 78 degrees Monday and sunny skies and a high temperature of 84 degrees Tuesday. A chance of thunderstorms returns Wednesday, however, and continues into the weekend. High temperatures Wednesday through Saturday are expected to be in the upper 70s and low 80s.

Matt Erickson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 2000 as a reporter, covering crime and courts and the city of Brainerd. In 2012 he was promoted to night editor and in 2014 was promoted to editor of the newspaper.
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