A soft opening of the Melody Room, a restaurant inside Willy's, will go on as planned on Monday, June 8, after a Sunday night storm partially tore the roof off the Larimore bar. Owners Mark Williamson and Heather Bridgeman said that everyone was OK following the storm, with winds that reached up to 80 mph, and the interior of the bar is intact.
"Luckily, it didn't hurt anything else," Williamson said. "It just tore the sheet metal off .... It could have been a lot worse."
Willy's received the worst damage reported in the region, according to the National Weather Service at Grand Forks. Thunderstorms and high winds Sunday night brought fallen branches to the rest of the Grand Forks area. Red River Valley residents should be prepared for a similar weather event this afternoon is forecast Monday, June 8.
Grand Forks National Weather Service meteorologist Nick Carletta said Grand Forks received winds of about 60 to 65 mph with scattered reports of pea-sized hail. The wider region saw wind speeds of up to 80 mph, and the most severe damage was reported in in Larimore, where there were reports of a downed power line. The northeastern part of the state saw the greatest hail impacts, with reports of golf-ball-sized hail reported in Pembina County, Carletta said.
The greatest impacts of the storm were seen elsewhere in the state: A 2.5-inch hail stone was reported in McIntosh County, and a tornado was reported near Bismarck.
A tornado watch was issued for the northern Red River Valley on Sunday, but Carletta said no tornadoes formed in the area. While there were reports of funnel clouds in the region, the NWS is still investigating. Wind damage in the area was more than likely caused by straight-line winds associated with the thunderstorm, he said.
"The good news with this is we are not expecting much of a tornado threat, unlike yesterday, and the wind threat might be a little less as well, though the hail threat is still considerable again," said Carletta, who encouraged residents to stay aware of the weather and any flood warnings.
The warm, wet weather is expected to persist through Wednesday, due, in part, to a tropical storm that made landfall on the Gulf Coast Sunday and is making its way up to the Midwest, resulting in "proto-tropical moisture" in the form of heavy rainfall.
Monday afternoon, NWS reported a severe thunderstorm watch for northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and a severe thunderstorm warning for an area from Grafton to the Canadian border. Flood warnings were also issued in Kittson and Polk Counties.
NWS meteorologist Tom Grafenauer said the heaviest storms were forecast near the Canadian border and the southern valley. Storms in the region were expected to last until 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"Grand Forks is maybe kind of between those two areas," Grafenauer said. "They're going to be really close on the southern edge of that first area, and they're going to be on the northern edge of that second area, so that is something people still have to keep an eye out on the weather, but they may be between the two threat areas, honestly is kind of the way it's looking right now. But we're not out of the woods yet."
Thunderstorms are expected to continue on Tuesday. As the tropical moisture moves out of the area, Carletta said the Red River Valley will return to cooler, drier weather later in the week.