“You could see it coming, but you didn’t know how bad it was going to be until it actually got here,” said a witness to the Tuesday, July 5 storm that will go into the annals of summer “doozies.” “It was wind like we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Wright County was leveled by the late afternoon/early evening storm, which brought torrential rain and thousands of lighting strikes to the northern end of the area. But it was the wind – clocking in at 80 MPH according to the National Weather Service spotters in the area – that downed hundreds of trees and caused thousands of dollars in damage, including a slew of power outages.
“You have to take your hat off to the first responders and the electrical workers on a day like this,” wrote Albertville Pastor Jeremiah Curran about the response Tuesday evening. “They’re being pulled everywhere, and it’s still storming.”
Indeed, Wright County Dispatch was inundated with calls around 5 p.m. as the wind began snapping power poles like so many toothpicks. Along Wright County Highway 19 between Hanover and St. Michael, dozens, literally in a row, gave way, sending the high voltage lines replaced with the 2014 construction project crashing onto the asphalt below.
The catastrophe closed Highway 19 during the evening commute and sent drivers on a scramble as they tried to re-route home in a torrential downpour, all the while wondering what damages awaited once they arrived at their houses.
No tornado was officially spotted, but the wind uprooted trees in Monticello that were more than a century old. In St. Michael, some landed on cars in driveways. Trampolines turned into airborne projectiles. One even wound up in Lake Wilhelm, on the southwestern end of the city.
As of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Wright-Hennepin Electric, the main service provider to Hanover and southern St. Michael, two of the hardest hit areas, said their company had thousands of customers offline, possibly 8,000 or more. Xcel Energy had more than 120,000 customers offline throughout the Twin Cities, with more than 6,000 in the Rogers, St. Michael and Monticello areas alone.
Damage assessments were being done to see how long repairs would take. Most customers were told it would be a “couple of days” before service would be fully restored. However, some grids were back on in Monticello before 10 p.m.
This is a developing story. North Wright County Today will have more on the storm cleanup and details about power outages and repairs when information becomes available.