High Winds and Injuries in the BWCA

Monday night another storm passed through the Boundary Waters. We experienced winds on the Gunflint Trail in the low 30′s and almost a half of an inch of rain. Luckily we didn’t hear of any injuries reported on our end of the BWCA and we didn’t lose power this time.  Unfortunately elsewhere in the BWCA a couple of campers were injured when a tree fell on them.  We’re hoping they have a quick recovery and that no other injuries are reported.

PRESS RELEASE
Superior National Forest
Superior National Forest
July 23, 2014
Contact: Kris Reichenbach 218-626-4393

Many Cooperate in Emergency Response to Windstorm

Winds from a thunderstorm early July 22, 2014 caused trees to blow down in areas across the Superior National Forest, with the most impacts in the far northwest part of the Forest in northern St. Louis County, Minnesota. Multiple agencies coordinated to rescue people from two groups injured from falling trees while camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).  No further storm related injuries have been reported and crews continue to patrol and assess storm impacts today.   More…

Starting in the early morning hours of July, 22, the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department, Crane Lake Volunteer Fire Department (CLVFD), local businesses, and the Superior National Forest worked together to conduct emergency response operations in parts of the LaCroix Ranger District that were impacted by the powerful thunderstorm.   Seven injuries were reported. One group used a satellite phone to call in an emergency to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office at three a.m. from Lady Boot Bay of Lac LaCroix. Mark Zupancich of Zup’s Resort, Anderson’s Resort, SLCSR, and the Crane Lake Volunteer Fire Department (CLVFD) removed two injured people by boat to an ambulance. At approximately noon, a report of five more BWCAW visitors camped at Loon Lake-some who were still trapped in their tents from fallen trees, was received by SLCSR. Morse /Fall Lake First Responders (MFLFR), along with CLVFD members, extracted the trapped individuals.  First responders accompanied two people who were flown out by a Forest Service floatplane to Ely.  Three more people with less serious injuries were accompanied by first responders and brought out by boat to Crane Lake.  In a separate medical evacuation that was not storm-related, a Forest Service floatplane was also used and assisted by MFLFR and the Lake County Sheriff on Tuesday.

In response to the storm, an Interagency Incident Management Team was formed to ensure other parties are not in need of assistance and assess storm impacts.  Two Forest Service wilderness crews were already in the area of the storm and were redirected to check the safety of BWCAW visitors. Two Forest Service float planes flew patrols looking for any other injured parties and to assess the damage.  One additional Forest Service crew was inserted by float plane to Lac LaCroix.  A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter was on standby for closer assessments but was not utilized. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources used aircraft to help with public safety and storm damage assessments on the Canadian side of the border.

The Forest Service completed an aerial reconnaissance Tuesday and identified an area of concentrated impact in the Lac LaCroix Area, including Lady Boot Bay, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Lady Boot Bay, Little Loon Lake, East Loon Bay, the Northern portion of the Sioux Hustler Trail, Little Gabro Area, Little Isabella Entry Point Area, Snake River Entry Point Area. Trees are also reported down at scattered locations across the Forest.

Based on current information, the Forest Service does not plan to close any part of the Superior National Forest due to the storm, including the BWCAW.  Visitors to the Superior National Forest and surrounding area are urged to watch for downed trees and take particular caution around trees that may have been damaged but are partially suspended or not already on the ground.  This is a reminder that visitors need to be prepared for conditions that may result from natural occurrences in the Wilderness and can expect downed trees on some portages and campsites as a result of this storm.  Crews will continue patrols to assess and remove blown down trees as appropriate.

Late-night storms topple trees, injure campers in BWCA

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2014 – 3:36 PM

The top wind speed reported to the National Weather Service came from Alexandria, at 59 miles per hour shortly after 11 p.m.

Thunderstorms carrying strong winds roared over the northern half of Minnesota late Monday and into Tuesday, knocking out electricity to thousands of customers and injuring campers in two locations in the sprawling the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, officials said.

Two campers in a group of 17 from Louisiana near Lady Boot Bay were injured when trees fell on their tents about 2:45 a.m., according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. First responders transported the two by ambulance to a Virginia, Minn., hospital for treatment of noncritical injuries.

The two were identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Hayden Toups, 13, of Brusly, and Kirk Sanchez, 47, of Port Allen.

Another group of campers about 10 miles away at Loon Lake were hit by trees later Tuesday, with some injuries being reported, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Friebe.

Emergency responders “are still getting them out right now,” Friebe said shortly after 2 p.m. While he didn’t have specifics on the number of injured or how badly, the sergeant added that medical helicopters were being used, so “they’re obviously considered serious.”

An official at the Superior National Forest office in Duluth said the storms were quite violent, leaving about 100 trees down along the highway that connects Ely and Isabella about 40 miles to the southeast.

Elsewhere in the state, power was reported out around 11:30 p.m. Monday for some customers as far south as Staples, with windy conditions also peeling away parts of rooftops in the Todd County community, the National Weather Service (NWS) added.

Also, hail was reported early Tuesday in Ogilvie and Long Prairie.

The top wind speed reported to the weather service came from Alexandria, at 59 miles per hour shortly after 11 p.m.

Minnesota Power and Lake Country Power reported a combined 20,000 or so customers without electricity overnight in the Duluth area and elsewhere. Nearly 2,400 remained without power in the Brainerd area well after sunrise.

Minnesota Power said snapped tree limbs and uprooted trees caused trouble for the utility in International Falls, Duluth, Eveleth and Nisswa, among other communities. Trees toppled easily because of the ground’s saturation from heavy June rainfall, the utility added.

By late Tuesday morning, Minnesota Power was still working to restore power to roughly 6,500 of its customers.

“This storm raked across our service territory rather quickly and then subsided about 3 a.m.,” said John Muehlbauer, a Minnesota Power crew superintendent.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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