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78 mph winds knock out power, down trees in Brainerd area

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Strong winds downed trees and knocked out power for thousands in central Minnesota early Thursday.

The National Weather Service says a line of thunderstorms moved across the state, producing 78 mph wind gusts in the Brainerd area. (Another round storms is expected to pass through Minnesota Thursday afternoon, but they're not expected to be as severe. For the latest on the forecast, check out the weather service's website here.)

The Brainerd lakes area was the hardest hit, according to Minnesota Power, which noted 4,200 customers were without power in the Menahga, East Gull Lake, Nisswa and Round Lake Thursday morning.

A multi-day outage is possible – more than 25 power poles were damaged and need to be replaced in the area, the power company says. In an update Thursday afternoon, Minnesota Power said 1,800 people in the area are without power, and they could get it back by Friday night.

The good news is damage from the storm isn't as "severe or widespread" as last summer's storm, which left people in the Brainerd lakes area without power for about a week, with Minnesota Power saying the outages this time around were "fairly localized."

In addition to power outages, there were numerous reports of wind damagedowned trees, road closures and some flash flooding in the area.

Damage at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds prompted officials to delay the fair's opening Thursday until 1 p.m. so things could be cleaned up, a news release says. Photos from the fairgrounds show a tree fell on the 4-H building, flooding, and other structure damage.

Strong winds also took down one of Minnesota's biggest mascots – Babe the Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan's pal has since been uprighted.

Roofs torn off

Straight-line winds, reaching 70 mph, uprooted trees, overturned boats and pontoons, and took roofs off a few buildings in the Menahga area, the Wadena County Sheriff's Office said in an email news release.

No injuries were reported, and crews continue to work to clear trees and debris from roads so repair crews can get through.

No travel advised

The Brainerd Dispatch says no travel is advised in the Lake Shore area, on Interlachen Road between Bar Harbor and the Lake Shore City Hall.

And the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office says the area around Round Lake – County Road 115 (Ojibwa Road) and County Road 127 – was also "heavily damaged" and emergency crews are working to reopen roads in the area, a news release says.

Anyone who isn't supposed to be there is asked to leave – and if they don't, they could face a citation from law enforcement officials, the sheriff's office says.

Here's a look at some more damage in the area:

Twin Cities sees less serious damage

Storm damage was also reported in the Twin Cities area Thursday morning. Heavy rain (Hennepin County received 2.5 inches of rain) caused localized flash flooding. Some power outages were also reported, but not to the extent central Minnesota experienced.

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