Storm cleanup continues in Thief River Falls
Residents of Thief River Falls, Minn., continued cleaning up Monday after a powerful thunderstorm whipped through their community.
Pennington County Sherriff Ray Kuznia said last Friday’s storm was the most dangerous he’s seen in 27 years working with the department.
“It hit us so fast,” he said Monday by phone. “The National Weather Service didn’t even have time to warn us.”
Early Friday evening, the storm passed through Grand Forks — bringing with it winds under 40 mph and only about an inch of rain. Later, the storm system arrived at Thief River Falls.
Kuznia says the storm escalated so abruptly just as it reached the city, that police did not even have time to activate emergency sirens.
“All of a sudden the lights were out,” said Kuznia. “It happened so quickly.”
Many homes in the city lost power for a few hours. Some east of town went without power for about 24 hours.
The National Weather Service’s report stated the storm increased in danger as it traveled east across the southern part of the city, though the worst of the winds lasted for mere minutes.
Kuznia explained that part of what made the storm so dangerous was its “macroburst” distinction. During a macroburst, wind from the storm is pushed straight down as well as parallel with the ground.
“(The wind) actually pushes downward and bounces back…and drives the rain even harder down,” Kuznia said.
Among the damage from the storm included battered houses, missing shingles, snapped power lines, destroyed grain silos and uprooted trees.
East of the city limits, where 120-mph winds caused the heaviest damage, a mobile home was flipped on its side. No one was inside the home at the time.
Kuznia also reported a three-stall garage was ripped from its foundations and detached from the house to which it had been connected.
“What makes garages so susceptible (to damage) are the doors,” said Kuznia. “As soon as those doors blow in, it basically creates an updraft and takes the roof right off.”
Despite the property damage, there were no reported injuries during the storm.
Those who lost power have had it restored, but cleanup is not yet finished.
“There’s still a lot of brush lying around. They’re trying to pick up what they can,” said Kuznia.
The city has set up a collection point for residents to drop off broken timber and debris from their yards.
“There have been a lot of neighbors’ friends and everybody else pitching in to get things cleaned up. They’re very supportive,” Kuznia said. “We’ve got a great community. That’s why I love it here.”
Will Beaton | Grand Forks Herald