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Paynesville Press - July 10, 2001

View from the Lake

Strange weather has long history in Paynesville

By Linda Lorentzen

The past few months have been full of weather surprises.

Back in April when my daughter started fast pitch softball, the first few games had to be cancelled secondary to the fields being covered with snow. Then came the plentiful rains and a few more games were rescheduled. More recently we have had to contend with the excessive heat and humidity.

The Fourth of July weekend weather was no exception. The high temperature and unbearable humidity, while making for wonderful lake activity weather, was not fun for spectators and participants in softball. The high humidity seemed a set-up for a bad storm and had my family wondering if the Koronis fireworks, scheduled for Saturday, July 6, would be held.

As we left for a return Saturday evening trip to the cabin, the weather forecast was on one of the local channels. A huge storm cloud had formed over the central part of the state and the only town in the warning area that the announcer listed was "Paynesville." It stormed on and off on our route to the cabin and it seemed that the fireworks display would be doomed.

Weather was often the topic in old issues of the New Paynesville/ Paynesville Press. Over a hundred years ago in 1901, the high temperature was the topic. "Saturday was not only the hottest ever noted in Minnesota 105 in the shade but the present is the longest spell of continuous hot weather on record. This is the thirteenth successive day on which the thermometer has registered above 95 at some time during the day and the average temperature for the period has been 85. Three weeks ago people were praying that it might cease raining. Today a lighted match dropped in the grass will start a prosperous prairie fire."

In July 1903, rain was more of problem than high temperatures. "Lake Koronis continues to rise at the rate of about four inches each twenty-four hours. The water now lacks but very little of running over the low spots in the grade between the old and new landings." The old landing was located near the former Donna's Bed and Breakfast and the new landing was near the current Veteran's Park location.

Early August 1903 brought more challenges with weather. "The rain storm Tuesday evening was next to the heaviest that has visited this section this summer. It was accompanied by considerable hail, which is reported to have done some damage to growing crops in several localities north of the village. At Eden Valley a high wind prevailed which demolished the new village water tower and the Soo Line windmill."

Just as the storms from this past weekend passed Paynesville, so did a storm in August 1907. "This village was once more remarkably fortunate in escaping the severe storm of Sunday evening which passed to the south of Lake Koronis and swept all the territory from this point east through Minneapolis and St. Paul and on into Wisconsin. Only a sprinkle of rain fell here and there was a slight puff of wind. South of the lake a torrent of water fell and the wind hit off a sixty-mile clip."

Dry weather and rain were the topic again in May 1905. "Nearly three inches of water fell Tuesday afternoon and evening, and another like amount last evening, effectually breaking the long dry spell. Some of the farmers south of the lake complain that the fall was so heavy that much grain has been washed out."

A headline in the Press on July 10, 1913, read, "Tornado at Paynesville." The weather in the evening on the 4th of July had turned to rain and wind. By 7 p.m. the storm reached its worst and caused damage to several of Paynesville's buildings and surrounding farms. Most of the storm seemed to strike the south side of town. "The new high school building which was finished about a year ago was unroofed and thoroughly drenched on the inside from the rain that followed. The damage is estimated on the building at $7,000. It was fully insured, having $10,000 tornado insurance on the building. W. O. Kruger, Chas. Kruger, Otto Nagel, C. Rein, and Charles Ralph all lost their barns and a large number of barns and outbuildings were damaged by the wind and the blowing of debris of other buildings into them. The new barn that Mr. Boylan is building on the site of the one that burned down a month ago was pierced on the south side by a number of timbers from the barns that were blown down. Mrs. R. Kelly's and Christ Rein's houses were badly wrecked with the storm. The tent in which the chautauqua was being held was laid flat and the merry-go-round that was operating in the east part of town was wrecked."

We arrived at the cabin to find that Koronis had not received any of the bad weather predicted by the weather forecasters. However, Mother Nature provided her own interesting backdrop for the 2002 fireworks display from the first island. Periodically lightning lit up the clouded sky and added to the multi-colored fireworks display. The combination of nature and man-made beauty was quite a sight and also a reminder of just how impressive a part that weather has on our view from the lake.

Information for this column was taken from the following issues of the New Paynesville/Paynesville Press: July 25, 1901; July 16, 1903; August 7, 1903; May 4, 1905; August 22, 1907; and July 10, 1913.

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