A line of severe thunderstorms whipped through southern Hubbard County early Thursday morning, producing hail and powerful winds.
At 2:23 a.m., the Park Rapids Airport recorded wind gusts of 75 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Greg Gust, a NWS meteorologist, said 2-inch hail was reported in Park Rapids around 1:20 a.m.
Ryan and Jessica Leckner lost three shade trees in their backyard, yet their Discovery Circle neighbors were unaffected.
“That’s what I can’t figure out. What would’ve caused just these to fall?” asked the Park Rapids mayor.
One tree landed on their roof, damaging a picnic table and awning, but it did not puncture the shingles.
With the help of family, the Leckners spent the day clearing the wreckage and hauling away load after load of tree limbs.
The first storm brought a bunch of hail, says Justin Frette of Park Rapids. “We probably had quarter-sized to ping-pong-sized hail.”
The wind of the next storm snapped a tree in his yard, which hit the hood and passenger mirror of his Chevy truck. Frette said it was unclear whether it was struck by lightning or not, noting the tree is “shredded all the way down to the base, but the tree could be old.”
“Last night, probably about 2:33 a.m., I heard the power go down. It did it twice in a row. It sounded like a freight train coming through,” Frette said.
His girlfriend returned from a night shift at the Bemidji hospital. “She called me when she got here. She was like, ‘You might want to come out here. You’ve got a tree on top of your truck,’” Frette said.
Annie Fredericks took photos of the golf-ball-sized hail that pounded her home along Monico Avenue. She estimated it was 2.5 to 3 inches.
Her mom, Jewelie, said they were awake during both thunderstorms.
“I woke up the first time because I heard a funky noise,” Annie said. “I realized it was hailing. I could see it bouncing in the grass. I opened the door, and it was huge. It’s insane.”
Emily Whitaker of Nevis said thanks to her dog, she and her daughter were not in the bedroom where the tree hit their house.
“I woke up around 2 a.m. when my dog started barking,” she said.
Whitaker grabbed her daughter, Miette Phillips, 7, and a flashlight and they quickly headed down to the basement.
“As I got down to the basement and got her tucked into the couch down there we heard the boom of the tree fall on the house,” she said. “It was 60 to 80 seconds after we got out of the bedroom the tree hit. So it was a good thing the dog was barking.”
Chris Norton, who lives in rural Nevis, said he was surprised when he went out Thursday morning and saw a tree had hit his garage.
“I took the dogs outside and that’s when I saw it,” he said. “Sounds like there were quite a few trees down around the area, especially on North Street in town. We woke up to the storm, around 2:30 a.m., heard a lot of thunder and saw the severe thunderstorm warning, but didn’t hear the tree hit the garage. Maybe we slept through it. Thank goodness, I could still get out of the garage.”
Park Rapids City Forester Stephanie Pazdernik was “cutting trees like crazy” on Thursday afternoon in city-owned parks and boulevards.
Two trees fell in Depot Park, she said. Big branches were on the ground in Red Bridge Park. “I had to rake everything. In Deane Park, I had two large pines and cleanup of white pine. I haven’t made it to Lindquist Park yet.”
Pazdernik said, “It’s busy. I might get caught up by tomorrow (Friday).”
Gust said sensors recorded 49 mph winds in Osage, 51 mph in Chamberlain and 35 mph on Potato Lake. He described the lightning as “loud and obnoxious with the sound and light.”
As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, 1,306 customers were without power in the Itasca-Mantrap Electric Cooperative service area.
“Severe storms moved across the Itasca-Mantrap service territory early July 9, causing nearly 100 separate outages for our members,” said marketing/member services manager Nikki Torkelson. “The high winds brought down many trees on power lines, snapping lines and breaking poles making for slow restoration work. Our crews have been responding to these outages since early morning and as of this afternoon, we are down to 39 outages and approximately 400 members without power. Safety is our number one priority, for our members and our crews. Please stay clear of trees and limbs on power lines. Thank you to our members for their patience as our crews work hard to safely restore these outages.”