'Not your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm': Strong winds, hail, power outages expected in Northland overnight

The first wave of a two-part weather event is likely to bring conditions reminiscent of the July 2016 storm that knocked out power for several days in parts of the Twin Ports, officials said.

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The Northland can expect to see thunderstorms, hail and strong winds from an overnight system that may bring the most severe summer weather the region has seen in several years.

The National Weather Service in Duluth urged anyone planning to camp in a tent or RV to consider changing plans or having a stable structure available for shelter.

The strongest part of the system is expected to move west from the area of Bemidji and Brainerd through the Twin Ports and Hinckley, extending into Northwestern Wisconsin. It should arrive in the Twin Ports area between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The storms will likely bring wind gusts upward of 75 mph, with hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter. Downed trees are expected, along with widespread power outages, and a few weak tornadoes are possible, said Joe Moore, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS in Duluth.


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"This is probably going to be the worst storms the Northland sees this summer," Moore said Friday afternoon.

Duluth was placed in a "moderate" risk category by the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center — the agency's second-highest threat level, which has not been seen in the city since July 2014.

Moore said mid-July is typically when the Northland can expect its most severe summer weather, noting the system has the possibility to bring similar conditions to that of the July 2016 blowdown that knocked out power for several days in parts of Duluth and the surrounding region.

The storm's path is expected to hit several state parks and campgrounds, including Itasca, Jay Cooke and Itasca.

"There are lots of possible campers, lots of possible vulnerable people out there," Moore said. "This is not your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm."

The storms will taper off Saturday morning, but more is on the way.

A second round of more scattered thunderstorms are expected to enter the region Saturday afternoon and evening. Moore said wind gusts in that system may reach 65 mph, with the possibility of 2-inch hail and an isolated tornado.


Some areas that are repeatedly hit with heavy rain may see some localized flash flooding, Moore said.

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Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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