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Weather: Blowin' in the wind

We are another week past peak summer temperatures. Highs at the Bemidji Regional Airport topped out at 80 three days in a row with lows in the mid to upper 50s. Dew points in the 50s and fairly mild winds made for comfortable conditions.

We are another week past peak summer temperatures. Highs at the Bemidji Regional Airport topped out at 80 three days in a row with lows in the mid to upper 50s. Dew points in the 50s and fairly mild winds made for comfortable conditions.

Friday morning featured a powerful thunderstorm. Weather spotters reported 70 mph winds, ping pong size hail and flooded streets in downtown Bemidji.

Winds were also strong elsewhere. Music festivals across the globe were especially hard hit. Fans anticipating a performance by Sugarland last Saturday at the Indiana State Fair outside of Indianapolis were instead battered by strong thunderstorm winds. The winds caused the stage to collapse into the crowd. Five people were killed and dozens injured. Some meteorologists believe the area was struck by a gustnado - essentially a short-lived, rotating cloud that is often associated with thunderstorm outflows.

Thursday afternoon brought another wind-induced stage collapse. This time at the Pukkelpop festival near Brussels, Belgium. As the band Smith Westerns played the festival grounds were struck by a powerful thunderstorm which brought down the stage structure. The band narrowly escaped injury but members of the audience were less fortunate. Three people were killed and more than 70 were injured.

Other weather-related incidents at outdoor music festivals have occurred recently in Tulsa, Toronto and Quebec City. Comments from attendees at all five of these festivals were eerily similar - "If we had been told to leave we would have."

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The northwoods has its share of outdoor music events over the summer. We also have our share of violent storms. Inevitably they will coincide. Reasonable and prudent behavior when severe weather approaches when you are outdoors is to find safe shelter as quickly as circumstances allow. You don't need to wait for someone to tell you to do so.

Tom Siemers is the Pioneer's circulation manager. Email him at tsiemers@bemidjipioneer.com

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