When all was said and done following Tuesday's severe thunderstorm, a few places in the Brainerd lakes area received more than a half foot of rain.
Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour overwhelmed the rate at which the ground could absorb the water, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported, resulting in flooding of low-lying areas and city streets.
"We weren't expecting that much rainfall but we were expecting severe thunderstorms with severe winds and hail," said Greg Frosig, NWS meteorologist. "Six inches of rain is a little unusual but it turned out to be a very nice rain."
In Brainerd, dozens of vehicles were reported to have stalled out while trying to go through flooded streets. Pam's Hallmark store in the East Brainerd Mall will be closed until Friday because of water damage.
Marian Olsen, manager of Pam's Hallmark in the East Brainerd Mall, could have used a sympathy card maybe. She talked about where the majority of water entered the store Tuesday night. The store is closed until Friday while the clean-up continues. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Marian Olsen, Pam's Hallmark manager, said the main roof drain at the mall couldn't handle all the water and backed up into the ceiling of her store.
"The ceiling and walls and carpets were wet all over the place. We were wading in water," Olsen said. "We were splashing around in it pretty good."
According to reports received by the National Weather Service in Duluth, flash flooding in Aitkin washed out railroad tracks by the Ripple River, inundated streets with standing water and flooded one street into buildings.
Pillager - 6.3 inches.
Deerwood - 6 inches.
Merrifield - 5 inches.
Brainerd - 5 inches.
Nisswa - 4 inches.
Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said BNSF Railway crews had shored up the erosion near the railroad tracks by 3 a.m. Wednesday.
"We've got a lot of water," Turner said. "It varied throughout the county but unofficial reports have up to 6 inches of rain in some places."
In Staples, flooding forced the evacuation of homes on Fifth Street and power was shut off at the Staples high rise apartments on Fourth Street.
Hail reports to the weather service ranged from 1.75-inch diameter in Pillager to .88-inch diameter in Brainerd and 60 mph winds were recorded at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department also reported several instances of tree damage cause by the thunderstorm.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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