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Storms cause power outages, wind damage

A squall line races over Lake Superior seen from Skyline Parkway around 6:30 p.m. Tueseday evening. Heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms followed. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com1 / 2
Looking like an angry bird of prey, thunderstorm clouds swoop in over the city seen from the parking lot at First United Methodist Church on Skyline Parkway Tuesday evening. Heavy rain and strong winds followed. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com2 / 2

 A fast-moving line of intense thunderstorms struck the Northland on Monday evening, leaving thousands without power and toppling trees. There was also an unconfirmed report of a boat capsizing in Lake Vermilion.

Storms moved across much of northern Minnesota, said Carol Christenson of the National Weather Service in Duluth, but intensified around 6 p.m. as two storm systems merged. Sporadic wind damage was reported in the Twin Ports, and much heavier damage occurred in the Biwabik, Hibbing, Soudan and Ely areas, Christenson said. The highest recorded wind gust was 53 mph at the Ely airport, but gusts in the region may have reached as high as 70, she said. Widespread areas of mostly pea-sized hail were reported as well.

Although there were periods of heavy rain, the storms moved quickly and total amounts generally were modest, Christenson said.

As of 8 p.m., Lake Country Power reported more than 7,000 outages and Minnesota Power more than 2,400, with about 650 of those in Duluth and more than a thousand in the Tower-Soudan area.

Randy Pratt, manager of the HooDoo Point Campground on Lake Vermilion, said power was out there, and Lake Country Power had told him it would take anywhere from four to 12 hours for it to be restored.

"It was a really bad windstorm," he said. "We lost, I suppose, a dozen trees in the campground, a few screen tents. It was scary."

The 50 or so people staying at the campground came through unscathed, he said.

Pratt said search-and-rescue units had staged at HooDoo Point over reports of a capsized boat with four to five people missing.

No immediate report on the boat was available from the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.

Additional thunderstorms are likely Wednesday, Christenson said.

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