Weather Forecast


Storm causes damage on Big Pine Lake

Several docks were twisted or flipped over during a thunderstorm the night of July 21, while others were untouched. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS

Hot, humid weather fueled thunderstorms that rolled across Minnesota and the Dakotas on Monday night.

On the east side of Big Pine Lake, near Perham, some boats took a beating and docks were twisted or flipped by the storm while, oddly, swings, lawn chairs and garden gnomes were untouched.

Bill Wallace, who lives on the lake, said he heard a loud, whistling, “woooo” sound that lasted for about 30 seconds around 11 p.m. He said he thought the wind sounded like a tornado, but he did not see a funnel cloud.

“When I looked outside (after the sound), they were all flipped,” Wallace said of his dock, boat lift and boat. He said his new boat motor was ruined from being submerged.

“It’s a shocker,” said J.D. Bernu, Wallace’s neighbor on the lake. “I didn’t even hear it,” she said of the storm – and she was sleeping with her window open.

When she did wake up later that night, Bernu said she saw that her new pontoon and dock had been flipped.

“It’s just weird,” she said, pointing at another dock nearby that was still upright with a jet ski perched on a lift. Next to it was another dock that had been partially twisted. “It’s like it skipped,” she said of whatever did the damage.

Niki Eck and her extended family were staying at Sunset Beach Resort, also on Big Pine Lake.

“We’re just lucky no one got hurt,” said Eck, adding that she and other family members saw Bernu’s pontoon straight up and down in the water shortly after the storm. “It was eerie seeing everything in the dark with flashlights. It looked like the Titanic.”

According to Greg Gust, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D. who was analyzing radar data from the storm, the damage was most likely caused by straight-line winds associated with the storm’s squall line, and not a localized tornado.

“Around 10:40 p.m., our sensors picked up hail and wind to 40 mph in Ottertail,” said Gust. He added that weather stations from around Detroit Lakes and Wadena picked up gusts of wind up to 50 mph in addition to sustained wind speeds of over 35 mph for “a fairly long period” of time.

Other reports from the National Weather Service said winds up to 80 mph were recorded in Crookston, Minn., and almost 70 mph at Grand Forks International Airport in Grand Forks, N.D.

“The Crookston area was probably the hardest hit. We also had more significant damage along the Highway 2 corridor between Larimore and Crookston,” said Peter Rogers, a meteorologist also with the weather service in Grand Forks.

Funnel clouds were reported in the Crookston and Larimore, N.D. area around 8:50 p.m. Monday night. Reports of hail stones up to 1.75 inches in diameter also came in from the Larimore area.

Forum News Service contributed to this story.