Minot gets late-summer downpour

The skies over Minot darkened suddenly Monday morning and then proceeded to rain down troubles on motorists, homeowners and emergency responders.

The National Weather Service office in Bismarck had put the chances of a morning storm at 10 to 20 percent. By 10 a.m., when they saw some developments, they increased the chances to 40 to 60 percent.

“Thunderstorms are generally very spotty,” said Janine Vining with the NWS. “Now it seems most of the cluster is over Jamestown and moving into Cooperstown. The one that hit you is moving into Devils Lake but is dissipating.”

She said that by 1 p.m. Minot International Airport was reporting 0.77 inches of rain. The airport is the service’s sole monitoring station in Minot. There were unofficial reports of up to two inches of rain in south Minot before noon.

The first call to Minot Central Dispatch reporting problems came in at 10:20 a.m.

A tree was struck by lightning on Fourth Avenue Northwest.

“It actually exploded,” said Chris Aberle of Minot Fire Station 2. He added that a piece of the tree flew through a window of a home northwest of there on Cortland Drive, and that callers reporting the strike had thought houses were exploding.

Then, at 10:49 a.m., a vehicle became stalled in water on 18th Avenue Southwest just west of the intersection with South Broadway. Upon arrival at the scene, the water came three-quarters of the way up a city employee’s workboots. A tow truck was trying to hitch up a silver Pontiac in the middle of the waters.

“Do you think I can get through that?” a woman driving a Kia SUV asked this reporter. “I kind of want to try.”

And she did, just as the storm drains caught up and the water began to recede.

“Pretty much every intersection that had storm sewers came down” with problems, said Rick Hair of the Minot Streets Department. He added that the water had already receded by the time crews were ready to set up barricades on roads.

As for the storm drains not seeming to work, he said, “You just don’t see it until they get down to a certain level and then you see that vortex.”

“31st Avenue and 10th Street Southwest, 16th Street Underpass, Sixth Street Underpass, of course, but it’s closed, and then just some minor ones in residential,” he said of other roads flooded, but added that the road behind the bowling alley, Skyline Drive and 19th Avenue, caused the most problems because the drains there are slow.

The second call came three minutes later. A house had been struck by lightning in the 1100-block of Eighth Street Northwest.

“There was a lightning strike somewhere in the close vicinity of that house and the electrical charge somehow came in over the electric or telephone wire,” said Fire Department Battalion Chief John Hocking, giving the full story after firefighters vacated the scene. “It came out in an outlet box in the southwest corner of a second floor bedroom and started a box spring on fire.”

“We had some damage to a wall and a bed was on fire,” said Aberle, who was among the first firefighters at the scene.

“I called Xcel and they were notified,” Aberle said. “No power was out or anything” for the neighborhood.

“This little storm caused a lot of problems for me,” he added, with a laugh.