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Thunderstorms move over Minnesota

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI — Periodic thunderstorms overnight Friday and expected this weekend have put the city of Bemidji and parts of Beltrami County in a flood watch through Sunday morning.

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The National Weather Service office in Grand Forks, N.D., is monitoring a set of storm systems spreading across parts of west-central Minnesota, northeast North Dakota and northeast South Dakota that are “capable of producing very heavy rainfall.”

Officials from the NWS recorded 0.36 inches of rainfall at the Bemidji Regional Airport from Thursday night’s thunderstorm, and 0.64 inches of rainfall at a Department of Natural Resources office in Beltrami County.

Jennifer Ritterling, a meteorologist for the NWS, said areas in south central Minnesota can expect to see the more severe thunderstorms, but that the much of the Beltrami area terrain is saturated.

“We don’t expect anything severe in Beltrami County, but be aware that this is a summer convection type of storm, so the moisture is common,” she said.

Ritterling said NWS officials project the Bemidji area could receive an inch to 2 inches of rainfall by Sunday morning.

According to officials from Paul Bunyan Communications, residents in the Bemidji area reported minor outages and complications from Thursday night’s thunderstorm, but no widespread outages were reported.

Similarly, Ottertail Power Co. received no reports of power outages in the area, although major outages were reported in the areas of Fergus Falls, Morris, Milbank, S.D., and Jamestown, N.D.

Yellow Medicine 911 lines in the Granite Falls area are down and being rerouted to Lyon County, according to Forum News Service.

Forum News Service also was reporting the northern end of Kandiyohi County has been affected the most from the thunderstorms, with numerous cases of tree damage being reported. Willmar Lake also received the brunt of the storm, with one case of a house losing its steel roof, which ended up wrapped around the property's trees.

The Associated Press reported flooded streets in Morris, Glenwood and Starbuck, where 4 to 5 inches of rainfall was recorded in two hours.

The AP also reported that nearly 140,000 Minnesota Xcel Energy customers lost power as a result of the thunderstorms. About 61,000 were still without power as of Friday afternoon.

Nearing the year anniversary of the July 2, 2012 thunderstorm, which packed 80 mph winds and ravaged the area, Ritterling said Beltrami County should not expect this series of storms to produce the same, but cautioned to keep updated on the status of incoming thunderstorms.

“This is the peak for summertime thunderstorms,” she said. “Keep an eye out for the weather, especially if you’re outdoors.”

Here’s the NWS forecast for Bemidji:

Saturday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 77. East southeast wind 6 to 9 mph. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Saturday night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 63. Calm wind becoming southeast around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Sunday: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before 1 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. East southeast wind 6 to 9 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Sunday night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59.

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