Perham area hit hard by storms
Massive hail, 60-70 mph winds and heavy rainfall hit the Perham area overnight last night, creating power outages, flooding, some road closures and hail damage.
Early, speculative reports indicated that as many as 6 inches of rain fell in some areas close to Perham, and hail reached diameters of more than 2 inches. Periodic power outages occurred across the area overnight. Power was generally restored in Perham by Friday morning, but some rural residents were expected to remain out of power for most of the day on Friday.
A representative from Otter Tail Power Company said trees on the lines caused its southwest feeder in Perham to go out for about 3.5 hours around midnight, affecting about 500 customers in southwest Perham as well as in Richville and Dent. Lake Region Electric Cooperative, based in Pelican Rapids, released a statement on its website Friday saying that the storms caused “widespread outages throughout our system,” which covers a 3,200-square-mile territory including rural areas around Perham and Ottertail. High winds and downed trees were cited as the main causes behind the outages. More than 2,000 Lake Region customers were still without power Friday morning.
All over the area, trees and branches were down, with some roads blocked. Lakeside Golf Course reported significant standing water on a low area of the course, and a large tree at a home across the street from Krauss Park was uprooted by strong winds.
Austin Andreen, who resides at the property where the tree uprooted, said he "heard a boom" overnight, and "didn't really know until morning what had happened."
The tree fortunately avoided hitting the home, causing minimal damage to a gutter.
Due to the flooding at Lakeside, the Oak course will be closed for three to four days, until the water recedes.
County Highway 8, about 10 miles north of Perham, was closed down due to flooding, with significant road damage and rushing water apparent. Charles Grotte, Assistant Engineer for Otter Tail County, said the road would stay closed until repairs can be complete, which could take at least a few days. In that same area, County Highway 53 was partially closed off due to flooding and standing water.
Resident Brian Osterday, who has lived in the area for years, said he'd never seen a storm quite like this one.
“We got hit pretty hard last night,” he said, showing photos he took of the Highway 8 flooding and the damage in his own yard, which included a downed tree and patches of standing water. “The hail was just so loud. So, so loud.”
Some Perham businesses were also reportedly affected by flooding. At Crane Johnson Lumber on East Main Street in Perham, for example, flooding caused $4,000-$5,000 in damages to insulation, doors and cabinetry supplies, according to store manager Greg Neisen.
As of early Friday morning, the area was still under a flash flood watch, flood warning and flood advisory. The flash flood watch will continue through Sunday morning at 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The watch is for all of eastern North Dakota and all of northwestern and west central Minnesota. Periodic thunderstorms capable of producing very heavy rainfall are expected to continue through Sunday morning.
Focus reporter Joe Bowen contributed to this story.