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Lake Superior unleashed: North Shore scenes from Oct. 10 storm

Waves explode over large cliffs on Lake Superior near the mouth of the Crystal Creek in Tettegouche State Park. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)1 / 9
Lake Superior waves washed up well past the tree line at a beach in Knife River on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)2 / 9
Dozens of onlookers and amateur photographers gathered near the Two Harbors breakwall to check out the waves lashing the North Shore on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)3 / 9
A huge wave explodes against a cliff on Lake Superior near the mouth of the Baptism River in Tettegouche State Park. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)4 / 9
Waves battered the Two Harbors Army Corps of Engineers breakwall. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)5 / 9
Brad Nelson, owner of Scandinavian Gifts near Two Harbors, helps clear the front of Mocha Moose, a neighboring business on Scenic Drive. (Photo courtesy of Penny Agar)6 / 9
A large wave shoots water over 100 feet in the air as it hits a cliff on Lake Superior near the mouth of the Crystal Creek in Tettegouche State Park during the Wednesday, Oct. 10, storm on the North Shore. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)7 / 9
The Mocha Moose suffered minimal damage when a tree fell as a result of powerful winds coming off Lake Superior on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (Photo courtesy of Penny Agar)8 / 9
Giant waves crash into large cliffs on Lake Superior at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)9 / 9

Lake Superior's fury was on full display as hurricane-force gusts of wind Wednesday, Oct. 10, whipped up huge waves from Canal Park in Duluth to Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay.

In Knife River, waves surged to nearly the treeline on the beach and tossed around boats moored in the marina.

Wind gusts as high as 86 mph were reported on the lake.

The Two Harbors Army Corps of Engineers breakwall kept the Edna G. tugboat safe near the ore docks, but took a beating in the process. Waves broke violently breakwall, occasionally washing over and preventing all of the dozens of onlookers from venturing out on the path.

Cooperative Light and Power crews were restoring power to customers along the North Shore. As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, it reported all power was restored.

Few cases of damage were reported to the Two Harbors Police Department and Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The Mocha Moose in Larsmont missed significant damage when a falling pine tree grazed the front porch of the coffee shop. Before rain and wind subsided, Brad Nelson, owner of the nearby Scandinavian Gifts store, was in front of the Scenic Drive business using his chainsaw to clear the way for customers.

The strongest wind gusts measured on \Wednesday came from freighters anchored on Lake Superior. The Canadian freighter Assiniboine, anchored just off Duluth, reported two minutes of sustained wind at 64 mph at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday and the Canadian freighter Algowood, anchored southeast of Castle Danger on the North Shore, measured a gust at 86 mph at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Other wind gusts measured on Wednesday included 55 mph just east of Duluth at 3:29 a.m., 54 mph at Devil's Island in the Apostle Islands at 4 a.m., 52 mph at Glensheen Mansion at 5:14 a.m. and 46 mph at the Duluth International Airport at 6:36 a.m., according to the Weather Service.

The storm on Wednesday also backed up shipping traffic on the lake, as the gale-force winds sent scores of ships ducking into safe harbor, said Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokesperson Adele Yorde.

"They all took shelter somewhere and anchored to wait out the high winds," she said Thursday morning. "Even now you look at the marine traffic (online) and see nobody coming across the lake; everybody is coming up and around. They're following the shorelines."

Between the Twin Ports, Two Harbors and Silver Bay, there were 20 ships scheduled to arrive between Friday and Monday, according to the website Harbor Lookout. Each of the docks has its own loading schedule, so the ships may have to fall in line and wait their turns, Yorde said. The ships were almost exclusively coming for taconite iron ore, with a few needing coal and some carrying in limestone."

Farther north, storm damage was mostly cleaned up in downtown Grand Marais on Thursday morning, except for standing water in the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op parking lot and water drying out in the basement of the Cook County Historical Museum, according to Valerie Marasco, emergency management director for the county.

About four blocks flooded in downtown Grand Marais on Wednesday, closing two streets and the businesses on them due to the gales, high waves and heavy rain, Marasco said. Beach debris and rocks were pushed into the streets in downtown Grand Marais and into the parking lot of Artist Point Park near the U.S. Coast Guard Station.

Lisa Kaczke of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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