Strong Winds Strike Canoe Country, Falling Trees Kill Two Campers

Map of storm damage July 21, 2016. (US Forest Service)
Map of storm damage July 21, 2016. (US Forest Service)

A storm with strong winds slammed the Boundary Waters around 2:30 a.m. today, causing significant blowdown damage. Two campers were killed by falling trees on the Canadian side of Basswood Lake.

The U.S. Forest Service reported it was still sweeping for victims or stranded campers, assessing damage, and clearing roads.

“Many roads and trails are blocked by downed trees within and around the Forest. Forest Service crews are currently working to clear access and to remove hazards. This effort may take several days to complete. Electric power was interrupted for some locations. There are no emergency closures on the Superior National Forest at this time.”

The two campers killed were with a Boy Scout group from the Northern Tier Adventure Program. They included a 39-year-old female volunteer and a 13-year-old boy. Two other members of the group were injured and evacuated by floatplane.

Ely wilderness outfitter Jason Zabokrtsky told MPR News that the danger of falling trees was exacerbated by several weeks of wet weather, which has soaked the soil and loosened tree roots.

Winds of at least 60 miles per hour damaged forests and communities across the Arrowhead, including causing significant damage in Duluth. Tens of thousands of residents were without electricity, on one of the hottest days of the summer. More strong storms are forecast for this weekend. 

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