Drought, mild winter temperatures and strong winds combined to make headlines across the calendar in 2007.
The drought through the spring and summer continued a trend of several dry years with a lack of snow during winter months to help replenish moisture. Rain was lacking in 2006 in Brainerd, with only 16.78 inches reported by the DNR, compared to an average of 27.41 inches. A better than average year in moisture was needed in 2007 to erase deficits.
Dry conditions added to agriculture worries and growers' concerns, dried up yards, brought on another season of low lake levels and created hazardous wild fire conditions.
A May fire and strong winds pushed a wildfire through 5 acres of woods and swamp in Baxter reaching within feet of houses and businesses. The afternoon fire was fought by ground and air and some people were evacuated.
The thunderstorm swept across Cass County and into northwest Crow Wing County about 7 p.m. Aug. 13. Three businesses in a commercial building on Highway 371 - Richter's Sculpture Gallery, Candy Boutique and Emily's Used Books - north of Baxter were forced to relocate when the building was destroyed by the storm and later torn down.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Less than 3 inches of rain fell in Crow Wing County from June 5 through July 30. The Secretary of Agriculture declared a natural disaster determination for 24 counties in Minnesota based on losses caused by drought that occurred May 1 and continuing. As a result, counties in the area that are eligible for Farm Service Agency emergency farm loans included Aitkin, Crow Wing and Cass.
In August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates dams on Gull and Cross lakes, reported many area lakes were at their lowest levels since 1988.
Stories in July and August used terms like "high and dry" and asked "where's the rain?"
A reversal of fortune brought on a wet fall. Almost 5 inches of rain fell in September with more in October creating flood watches in Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing counties, putting a dent in the drought deficits with rainfall averages by fall close to the average amount expected.
Unseasonably warm weather during the early winter and first month of 2007, had officials monitoring the ice conditions on Gull Lake for the 17th annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Sixteen inches of ice was needed as a minimum.
Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl gave the go-ahead to the contest after ice depth was checked in three locations on Hole-in-the-Day Bay finding 15-3/4 inches to 17 inches of ice depth.
In August, the biggest weather news may have been the severe thunderstorm with winds up to 60 mph that blew down hundreds of trees, knocked out power for thousands and damaged homes and businesses across the lakes area.
The thunderstorm swept across Cass County and into northwest Crow Wing County about 7 p.m. Aug. 13.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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