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Wind gusts in western North Dakota top 90 mph, down trees, powerlines

Damage evident in Minot

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Clean-up crews were busy throughout Minot shortly after sunrise Thursday morning following a night a strong winds. Gusts exceeded 70 miles per hour for nearly three hours. This photograph was taken near Third Street and 9th Avenue Southeast.

If howling winds didn’t wake you up during the night maybe a loss of power did.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour over a three-hour period overnight Wednesday, part of one of the strongest wind events ever experienced over western North Dakota. The strength of the wind, over a period of several hours, felled numerous trees. Many falling trees took overhead lines to the ground from nearby utility poles.

The NWS had issued a High Wind Warning prior to the onset of vicious winds that swept across all of the western part of the state, but the strength and impact of the system still caught many by surprise. Some areas of the state reported wind gusts pushing 100 mph.

Official wind velocity readings included 90 mph at Crosby, 76 mph at Garrison, and 72 mph in Minot. Undoubtedly, higher gusts occurred in areas where official readings were not measured. Fortunately, damage from the storm was primarily limited to trees, shingles, fences, and the like.

In Minot there were reports of power outages in several locations, mostly due to trees or heavy branches that were felled during the night. Minot Police spokesman Shane Haug said one of the biggest problems due to the high winds was the resulting loss of power in some parts of the city.

“Downed power lines near some of the intersections caused traffic lights to go out,” explained Haug. “We also had a lot of calls about trees blocking streets.”

Power was restored as quickly as possible in some areas even though the wind continued to gust over 60 mph. However, at least one area in northwest Minot remained without power at mid-afternoon Thursday.

As soon as daylight arrived Thursday morning, and the extent of damage became evident, crews were dispatched throughout the city to commence clean-up.

“We got our first call about 4:30 or 5 a.m. about trees being down and we’ve been going at it ever since,” said Brian Johnson, Minot Forestry Department, Thursday afternoon. “We’re catching up slowly but surely as long as we don’t get any more big gusts.”

Johnson said his department closed Oak Park to traffic Thursday morning due to tree damage caused by the high winds.

“Oak Park is pretty notorious for limbs with all the trees in there,” said Johnson.

He added that Oak Park would probably open up Friday morning.

The high winds followed one of the warmest January days ever in North Dakota. Minot broke its all-time high temperature Wednesday with a 49 degree reading, snapping the old mark of 46 degrees set in 1942. Other record-breaking temperatures were reported at Dickinson 55, and Bismarck 52. Jamestown tied its all-time high at 48 degrees.

Peak wind gusts

90 mph – Crosby

76 mph – Garrison

74 mph – Dickinson

72 mph – Minot

72 mph – Williston

71 mph – Bismarck

68 mph – Stanley

68 mph – Mott

Source: National Weather Service

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