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Northland reports 3-inch hail, high winds during powerful Monday storm

More storms are expected Wednesday afternoon.

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A tree blocks the alley below the 700 block of West Third Street in Duluth on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, after powerful storms moved through the area Monday evening. (Jimmy Lovrien / jlovrien@duluthnews.com)
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While the Northland received some much-needed rain Monday evening, the storm system also brought with it damaging winds and large hail.

Meteorologist Josh Sandstrom of the National Weather Service in Duluth said Grand Rapids is reporting the most wind damage. The Grand Rapids airport recorded the highest wind gust at 54 mph, he said.

"Grand Rapids area got hit pretty hard with the wind damage," Sandstrom said. "We had many reports of multiple pretty large trees down all over the place there — right in town and near town."

As of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, almost 1,000 Lake Country Power customers near Grand Rapids were still without power.

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In a news release Tuesday morning, the power cooperative said some may be without power until Wednesday evening.

"The damage is extensive, especially near Grand Rapids. The cooperative is reporting trees on lines, downed power lines and at least 15 broken poles," Lake Country said. "Full restoration is anticipated by Wednesday evening as some areas will take longer to restore from the significant amount of damage from straight line winds."

Pokegama Golf Course in Grand Rapids was operating Tuesday without power carts due to the lack of power. The clubhouse and Pokegama Grill are also closed. The Wednesday men's league could also be canceled if power isn't restored by 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Port Wing, along the south shore of Lake Superior, reported a gust of 71 mph, while the Blatnik Bridge recorded a gust of 60 mph, Sandstrom said.

In Two Harbors, wind kicked up dust from iron ore at the docks, creating a red cloud as the 1,004-foot laker James R. Barker backed out. The Duluth Harbor Cam's Two Harbors Boat Launch Camera captured the moment.

3-inch hail spotted

The storm also brought large hail with it.

Several reports to the Weather Service list 3-inch hail near Poplar, approximately the diameter of a baseball, and 2.5-inch hail near Maple. A report near the University of Wisconsin-Superior lists 2-inch hail.

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Near Duluth, hail was measured at 0.5-1 inch in diameter.

More rain needed to alleviate drought

Areas in and around Duluth received 0.44-1.64 inches of rain from the storm, while Cable and Hayward received 2.36 and 2.76 inches, respectively.

Even with the rain, the severe drought persists. But we'll take what we can get for rain, he said.

"The drought isn't certainly going away from this but some places got some fairly hefty amounts," Sandstrom said.

The U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday morning said it continues to fight nine fires, including two discovered yesterday, within the Superior National Forest and some within Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

"Despite recent rain, Minnesota's forests and grasslands are primed by record drought for an abnormal summer fire season and especially problematic fire behavior," the Forest Service said in a news release.

More storms brewing

There's a chance for similarly severe storms to return to the area Wednesday, Sandstrom said.

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The Weather Service is forecasting storms to develop over Northeastern Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon before moving over Lake Superior and into Northwestern Wisconsin in the late afternoon and evening.

The thunderstorm could produce hail up to 2 inches in diameter, "localized minor flooding," and wind gusts of 75 mph. There's a "low risk" for tornadoes, according to the Weather Service.

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(Photo courtesy of National Weather Service)

Reporter Teri Cadeau contributed to this story.

This story was updated at 5:55 p.m. July 27 to include details about Pokegama Golf Course in Grand Rapids. It was originally posted at 2:31 p.m. July 27.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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