Massive storm hits Granite Falls and Clarkfield
The Granite Falls-Clarkfield area was hit by a severe storm on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8. The strong winds knocked over many trees and power lines around both towns, causing power outages and making roads temporarily impassible in Granite. Damage was also reported in Canby and Sacred Heart. According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts approached 70 miles per hour in Granite while a total of 2 inches of rain in the space of one hour. Hail was also reported in certain areas.
Among the worst hit in town was the Yellow Medicine East Middle and High School. There, strong winds blew off portions of the roof covering the library and auditorium. According to school officials, there was water damage inside the building. Thankfully, responders arrived almost immediately and were able to patch up a temporary roof covering to prevent further damage.
Unfortunately, the school wasn’t the only section of Granite to receive damage. A downed power line pole at the intersection of 17th Street and 11th Avenue near the Minnesota West Community and Technical College campus shut-down traffic in that area for several hours.
Uprooted trees and downed branches (some as large as average trees) in Granite and Clarkfield also caused damage to multiple parked vehicles and trailers. Standing water was also noticeable throughout the two towns, with 11th Ave in Clarkfield almost entirely submerged. Both Granite and Clarkfield reported that the respective sewer systems were managing to keep pace with the rainfall.
Many residents commented on how the storm appeared to come out of nowhere. Several people were therefore caught unawares just as the storm hit around 1:30 pm on Saturday. Nic Olson, who was canoeing about 300 yards south of the NSP power station, explained how he and his group were forced to beach their canoes on the banks of the Minnesota River just as the rain started. Thankfully, they were able to use their upturned canoes and branches as shelter to ride out the storm. “We sang songs and had a friendly competition to decide how to measure the size of the hail,” he said, adding that “we all agreed that the biggest could be compared to peanut M&M’s.”
Within an hour of the storm passing, responders from fire departments and emergency crews, in addition to volunteers from the community, were hard at work clearing debris and cutting up downed trees. Although some roads remained impassible throughout much of the weekend, significant progress was made in clearing things up. Residents who still have branches that need clearing are being told by the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office to place them in the boulevard to be collected.