VIDEO: Tuesday storm delivers new blow to weather-battered towns, farms

CRYSTAL, N.D.--Janet Schmitz was in awe at the damage caused by storms that plowed through the town of Crystal Tuesday evening. "It's a wreck," Schmitz said. "There's trees down, the siding has holes like you wouldn't believe." Broken windows and...

A field of potatoes along ND Highway 18 north of Hoople, N.D., show the damage from Tuesday's hail and rainstorm. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

CRYSTAL, N.D.-Janet Schmitz was in awe at the damage caused by storms that plowed through the town of Crystal Tuesday evening.

"It's a wreck," Schmitz said. "There's trees down, the siding has holes like you wouldn't believe."

Broken windows and car windshields, flattened gardens and yards filled with tree limbs were a common sight in Crystal. Baseball-sized hail came down for as long as 35 minutes, Schmitz said. "Never in my 51 years have I seen anything like this, ever," she said.

The storm swept through Pembina, Walsh and Grand Forks counties and produced large hail, strong winds and widespread damage across the region. The bulk of the storm hit western Pembina County and traveled into the eastern part of Walsh County. The National Weather Service in Grand Forks said 2.5- to 4-inch hail was reported in Pembina County between Walhalla and Mountain and even as far south as west of Grafton. Strong wind gusts, as high as 60-75 mph, were reported from Mountain into the Grand Forks area.

The community of Mountain may have suffered the worst damage. It was hit "very hard" by storms, the Pembina County Sheriff's Department said.


Cavalier Air Force Station firefighters were busy cleaning up the area around the Mountain American Legion Wednesday afternoon, gathering downed tree limbs and excavating splintered trunks. Area farmers lent much of the equipment, which also included a fire truck, used for the cleanup.

"All the equipment is in town today, so it's either do it now or it'll be a lot of work for individuals later on," Mountain City Council member Keith Gudmundson said.

A crushed gazebo, given a fresh coat of paint just the day before, lay several feet from the Legion. The town is just 10 days away from its annual Deuce of August, a celebration of Icelandic heritage.

Farms across the region suffered as well. Acres of crops already damaged by an unusually wet summer received even more precipitation from the severe storms.

"They really, really did not need that rain," said Brad Brummond, North Dakota State University Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Walsh County.

Brummond estimated 1.5 inches of rain, as well as large hail, fell in eastern Walsh County Tuesday evening. The result is acres of drowned and crushed crops.

"I've been here pretty close to 24 years, and this tends to be wet country. I've never seen it this wet," Brummond said. "There's a lot of stress out there right now."

People are tired of cleaning up, he said, and the storms have seemed to hurt the same areas every time they've come through this summer.


"It's almost scary. The path these storms take seem to be very consistent," Brummond said.

The Walsh County Sheriff's Department fielded reports of hail damage and flooding in Hoople, several branches down in Grafton and damage to the historic St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Warsaw.

Additional damage reported to the National Weather Service includes widespread tree damage, roof damage and power outages Tuesday night.

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