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Storms leave trail of damage in northern Minnesota

DULUTH, Minn. -- Severe thunderstorms roared through parts of northern Minnesota early Thursday, downing trees and power lines across the region. As of 7:30 a.m., more than 64,000 customers were without power and the Duluth Fire Department advise...

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Part of the canopy at the Holiday gas station at Rice Lake and Arrowhead Road in Duluth, Minn., was severely damaged by strong winds from thunderstorms that rolled through early Thursday, July 21, 2016. Bob King / Forum News Service
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DULUTH, Minn. -- Severe thunderstorms roared through parts of northern Minnesota early Thursday, downing trees and power lines across the region.

As of 7:30 a.m., more than 64,000 customers were without power and the Duluth Fire Department advised no travel in the city of Duluth until later in the morning because of downed trees and power lines.

"There are multiple lines down ... and many streets remain blocked. Please refrain from traveling until later in the morning if at all possible," the Duluth Fire Department reported as of just before 5 a.m. Other communities were reporting downed and low-hanging power lines that could be a danger to drivers and passersby.

"Property owners are advised to not be cutting trees on roadways or on private property until power lines are secured by Minnesota Power. We have several reports of downed lines intertwined with downed trees," the fire department reported.

Minnesota Power reported about 37,000 customers without power from 460 individual outages as of 7:30 a.m., in Duluth and across the region. Lake Country Power reported nearly 27,000 customers without power as of 7:30 a.m., from more than 360 outages.

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The Duluth Transit Authority reported that there are service disruptions in the Woodland neighborhood and in areas east of 21st Avenue East because of downed trees blocking roads.

There is widespread tree damage across the region. In downtown Duluth, a number of trees were damaged or downed in the Civic Center, and street lights and traffic lights had been knocked over by winds that the National Weather Service had reported might reach 60 to 80 mph as the storms rolled through at about 3:30 a.m.

The canopy of the Holiday gas station at the corner of Rice Lake and Arrowhead roads was partly torn apart by the winds.

Major tree damage was evident in parts of Rice Lake just north of Duluth, where trees had fallen into the driving lanes of Martin Road. Side roads were completely blocked, with trees hung up in power lines. Multiple roads were blocked by downed trees in Lakewood Township to the northeast of Duluth.

There also was tree damage in the Woodland and Lakeside neighborhoods in Duluth -- London Road was closed for a time because of downed trees, according to scanner reports -- and traffic was having to navigate around downed trees throughout the neighborhoods as of 7:30 a.m.

The Ely Police Department reported that power was out in most of the area, and city crews were heading out to clean downed trees and debris.

Weather spotters reported winds of up to 70 mph at the Moondance Jam music festival near Walker as storms moved through earlier this morning, the Weather Service reported. Downed trees were reported in the Big Falls area of Koochiching County as storms moved through just before 1 a.m.

Trees were reported down across the Brainerd Lakes region. A 72 mph wind gust was reported near Lake Winnibigoshish just before 2 a.m.

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To the west, Beltrami County Emergency Management reported dozens of trees down and widespread power outages in the Bemidji area

Related Topics: WEATHER
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