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Storms cause power outages, gas leak in the Northland

A gray, dreary June day in the Northland was punctuated with two strong storm systems -- one in the morning and one in the afternoon -- that dropped hail, blew down tree limbs and power lines and closed a road when lightning caused a natural gas ...

Tree down
A large poplar tree was knocked down across Seville Road in Saginaw by Thursday morning's storm. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

A gray, dreary June day in the Northland was punctuated with two strong storm systems -- one in the morning and one in the afternoon -- that dropped hail, blew down tree limbs and power lines and closed a road when lightning caused a natural gas leak.

Hundreds of people dealt with power outages Thursday morning from Barnum to Duluth, according to Minnesota Power. At one point in the morning, there were 1,500 customers without power.

By Thursday night, all outages had been fixed.

Employees at businesses along Miller Trunk Highway in Hermantown were greeted early in the work day with a lightning strike that popped a transformer and left them without power for about three hours.

Mike Johnson, controller at Miller Hill Suburu, said employees there saw a double lightning strike in the parking lot just after 8 a.m. About an hour later, an electrical panel that had been smoking erupted into a small fire.

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"We're up and running now, no problems," Johnson said mid-afternoon as the second wave of rain and winds came.

Alex Tessier at the Econo Lodge just down the highway called the lightning strike "pretty loud" and said the power went out immediately.

Trees and power lines were down in the Island Lake area and near Barnum and Cloquet. Three-quarter-inch hail was reported a few miles outside of Ely.

The afternoon storm was a bit milder but power lines were reported down near Midway Road and U.S. Highway 2 west of Duluth. There were also numerous wind-caused outages on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin as heavy rain and half-inch hail fell.

A lightning strike north of Bayfield just before noon caused a natural gas line leak along state Highway 13. According to the Bayfield County Emergency Management office, lightning hit a tree, traced into the ground and caused the underground pipeline leak. Traffic along the highway was detoured Thursday afternoon and some residents were evacuated from the area near Red Cliff.

The county declared an "all clear" at 5:45 p.m. after a crew from Xcel Energy fixed the leak.

About an inch of rain fell in Duluth. Outside of the city, in Proctor and points south, rainfall totals neared 2 inches.

The National Weather Service forecast called for patches of rain overnight but clearing today with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s.

Related Topics: BAYFIELD COUNTYWEATHER
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