The Storm
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2/7/2000   

                          The Storm

  I woke up around 8:00 AM one July morning and not recalling what day of the week it was I finally concluded that it didn’t really matter.  I was somewhere in the middle of my second week at Fox Harbor Lodge (the cabin) and I was by myself, with the exception of my newly adopted chocolate lab Talcot.   My only thought that morning was to make a couple sandwiches, fill the cooler with beer and head out on the lake (Lake of the Woods, MN.) to do some Walleye fishing, just me and the dog.   

                                        Front Deck.JPG (56342 bytes) (click to enlarge)

  I was sitting on the deck, enjoying my second cup of coffee when I noticed that the wind had picked up. It was out of the west and right behind the wind there were some nasty clouds rolling in from the same direction.  There was a storm comin’. At that moment I decided to call my buddy David at work to share the moment because I know how much he loves storms.  I think he was glad I called because he didn’t use any really profane words while reminding me how lucky I was to be there.

  To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the arrival of this bad weather.   At least as disappointed as one can be in this place. Spending time at FHL can never really be disappointing.  My problem was that this was my week to hit the fishing hard since I spent most of the first week repairing stuff on my boat (The Slayer) and repairing various things around the cabin.  I’d had enough of that and was ready to fish (to be honest I was out of duct tape anyway). Reluctantly I decided it would be best to sit around and wait out the weather and just enjoy the show that old Mother Nature was planning. 

  After finishing my breakfast of bacon and eggs I watched the rain begin. Five minutes later, around 11:00 AM it began hailing and continued for about an hour.  This was my first experience with hail at the cabin and the sound of it hitting the roof was for the lack of a better word “cool”. 

  After the rain let up the cloud cover began to subside and it was looking good enough to head out on the water.   As I was getting my things together I happened to here the “T” word on the radio .. Tornado!!   A weather station out of Grand Forks began talking about a Tornado warning for the Grand Forks area and warned of funnel cloud sightings.  This wasn’t a big deal initially because I was a good 100 miles north west of there but what I heard next did concerned me.  Evidently the storm was heading NW towards the Northwest Angle area of Lake of the Woods, directly at me. 

  So being alone I didn’t want to get caught on the water with a big friggin’ twister coming at me so I decided to sit tight a little longer.   I continued to monitor the weather on the radio waiting for a slim chance the storm might diminish allowing me to sneak out for a couple hours of fishing.

  Then about 2:00 PM the power went out in the cabin. I wasn’t concerned at first but I began to think about the ramifications like ... I don’t dare open the fridge, stove doesn’t work, the Marine radio is out, AM/FM radio doesn’t work and because the running water is pumped out of the lake, that was history too!  SHIT !!

  Luckily for me I had packed the cooler full of beer and ice that morning so I had ready access to a refreshing cold-one without having to open the fridge.  But the worst part was not knowing for sure if I was the only cabin without power or was the whole island out..? Did a tornado knock out miles of power lines..? How long am I going to be without electricity..? Or in other words, “What the hell is going on?!” 

  Then I remembered I had brought my backup hand held marine radio along just in case.   It didn’t have the range to call anyone with it but at least I could hear what might be going on. As I begin monitoring the radio I found out all of Flag Island was without power and half of Oak Island, as well.   Flag Island resort had a generator so they were acting as a broadcaster of information during the outage.   The only encouraging news I heard was the electric company out of Roseau was aware of the problem and had already dispatched crews to fix it.  

  Around 4:00 PM the wind started picking up. Again out of the west, big time.  The dock is in a protective location, on the west side of the bay in front of the cabin so I didn’t have to worry about my boat being damaged, in fact it was barely moving in the water.   But now the talk on the radio was of Tornado Warnings for the Angle area!   I thought holy shit, a tornado is going to hit Fox Harbor Lodge at the same time I happen to be in it.  What are the chance of that happening?  I began to consider the probability of that happening and I took comfort in know that statistically speaking... “there’s no way”.    The cabin has been here for 25 years and it’s still standing.  About that moment it started to hail, again. This time... a lot heavier.  So, of course, I cracked open another beer and sat on the couch with a 75lb chocolate lab shaking like a leaf on my lap.   Aware of everything around me at that moment ... I was amazed at how much the Aspen trees in the front of the cabin can bend.  Even though they were 10-15 feet apart at ground level, they were swaying from side to side so much that they were actually knocking into each other as the wind blew.  I would guess the wind was pushing 40-50 mph.  

  I just sat back and road it out for about 20 minutes until the weather conditions subsided. It was not long before things were back to a normal state.   I went down to the dock to check on The Slayer and all was fine.  There was no hail damage to the boat top, which was my only concern.  I strolled around the cabin to see if any damage had occurred and none was evident.  Except for a few larger limbs lying around in the woods around the cabin we were no worse for wear…. “we” being FHL, Talcot, The Slayer, and me.   

                                                    cabin front.JPG (51502 bytes)

  Around 6:30 that night the power came back on.  Even thought at this time of year there are another four hours of daylight, I decided to abandon the fishing for the day and throw a big juicy steak on the grill.   After eating dinner, Talcot and I took a walk over to the Flag Island Resort to have a stiff drink and chat/sniff the folks over there.  I soon found out from the bartender that a Tornado touched down about a mile east of Flag Island!! 

  All I could do was tip my glass, pat my dog and say to him “Clean livin’ man, clean livin’!!” 

- Scott Holzer

aka: The Hoseman