Two hurt by falling tree as storm takes its toll
At least two people camped on Loon Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness were badly hurt early Tuesday when a tree fell on their campsite as storms battered northern Minnesota and North Dakota.
Paramedics from Crane Lake, Minn., were at the scene Tuesday afternoon, and U.S. Forest Service float planes were en route from Ely to ferry the victims out of the wilderness.
Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff, said a woman suffered “pretty significant injuries’’ and that a male victim remained trapped under a tree. Two rescue boats also were en route.
“The first call was for multiple victims, but we know there are at least two,’’ Phillips said.
Strong storms late Monday and early Tuesday crossed North Dakota and northern Minnesota.
Record rainfall and 70- to 80-mph winds battered the northern Red River Valley, especially between Larimore, N.D., and Crookston, Minn.
The National Weather Service said winds higher than 80 mph were recorded in Crookston.
There was flooding in the streets of Grand Forks, N.D., after rainfall set an official July 21 record of 2.74 inches, breaking the mark of 2.03 inches set in 1966.
Funnel clouds were reported west of Larimore and west of Crookston just before 9 p.m.
Hail measuring 1.75 inches in diameter was reported east of Larimore.
As the storm moved east across Minnesota, dozens of trees were reported down across Minnesota Highway 1 between Ely and Isabella.
The National Weather Service in Duluth reported that winds damaged several hangars and an aircraft at the Eveleth-Virginia airport when the storm blew through at about 1 a.m.
The storm left thousands of Minnesota Power and Lake Country Power customers without electricity overnight, and some may remain without power into Wednesday.
More than 4 inches of rain fell in Baudette overnight and more than an inch in International Falls, likely spurring additional challenges along the already flooded border waters.
“The storm was unique in that it stretched through and touched our entire service territory,” Minnesota Power’s Amy Rutledge said, noting that all directional quadrants of the company’s 26,000 square miles, from International Falls to Sandstone, and Brainerd to Duluth, were affected by thunderstorms and winds between 50 and 70 mph.
Falling trees downed power lines and knocked over power poles. Rutledge said the saturated ground, still soft from a summer ripe with rain, caused several large trees to topple from outside the company’s cleared rights-of-way, causing utility damage and disruptions.
In a separate Boundary Waters incident, two people camped on Lac La Croix were struck by a falling tree and injured. The victims were brought by boat to Crane Lake and taken to the Virginia hospital by ambulance after suffering non-life-threatening injuries.
Phillips said winds were reported over 60 mph in a scenario eerily similar to July 4, 1999, when ferocious straight-line winds downed millions of trees across the Boundary Waters and injured many campers, stranding some for several days.
“It really does remind me of that,’’ Phillips said, noting Forest Service aircraft were patrolling the area to see if any additional victims need help.