Thunderstorms, even severe thunderstorms, are common on the northern plains, especially in early summer, when warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico sweeps up the plains and collides with the yet wintry and drier air of the north.   Most often these collisions dissipate without much fanfare, but sometimes, and ever so rarely, these storms go rogue and rampage and become a Derecho. That is what happened in the early morning hours of July 4, 1999, in northern Minnesota. A line of thunderstorms west of Fargo, North Dakota intensified, organized, and accelerated eastward, developing into the Boundary Waters Blowdown storm. The storm was unprecedented in size and power, the largest ever recorded, historic in the way it ripped across northern Minnesota and southern Canada, knocking down millions of trees and causing somewhere near $100 million in damages.  Within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) it is estimated nearly 20 million trees fell in just 20 minutes.   Sustained winds of over 90 miles an hour leveled most everything within its thirty-mile-long and four to twelve-mile-wide path.  The storm continued east, travelling over 1,300 miles total, and at an average speed of 60 miles per hour.  Dissipating twenty-two hours later somewhere off the coast of Maine…………………

This is what I’m working on – from an ever-growing essay about helping clear the Kekekabic Trail in the BWCAW after the storm. We (A USFS trail crew from the Darrington RD, MBSNF) were there in 2000, a year after the storm. I thought I’d post a little piece since its July 4th. Maybe I’ll have it finished by next July 4th. It’s also about my dad and my family and growing up canoeing in the boundary waters and Sigurd Olson and working in the woods and global warming and god knows what else and maybe it will never be finished………

(OK – I wrote this just as I was starting in the Low Residency MFA Program in Nature Writing at Western Colorado University. Now, I’m working on that. I hope to get back to this soon! )

4 Comments Add yours

  1. crowcityblog says:

    Sounds like a pretty good book. Keep at it.

    1. Thanks! It does feel like it wants to be a book and not an essay

  2. Jeff Cann says:

    I love it when people write honest to god creative nonfiction weaving in elements of personal info and research. I’m sure it will be outstanding. A Derecho hit my father’s suburban neighborhood several years ago, and it broke the tops off of all the trees. Weird.

    1. Thanks Jeff! Yeah, derechos are pretty fascinating and weird and dangerous – scary to have one hit your father’s neighborhood! It’s been interesting researching them. I love nonfiction too that can weave many various elements together. Not sure I can pull this off but going to give it a try – be fun researching anyways

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