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‘Mothership’ storm cell captured over North Dakota as state is hit with ‘golf ball sized’ hail

A massive storm cell filmed over the American Midwest this weekend saw citizens bombarded with howling winds and golf-ball-sized hail — as residents prepared for more inclement weather.

The footage, taken near Lansford, North Dakota, just before 9 p.m. local time on Friday, was recorded shortly after officials issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area – warning of possible tornadoes and significant hail.

The message sent locals into a frenzy and caused shutdowns across the state — but didn’t stop storm chaser Shelly Heinrichs, who is based in Canada’s neighboring province of Manitoba, from trying to peak at the jaw-dropping crowd.

The resulting video shows the storm cell in its full, breathtaking glory as it engages almost the entire frame of the clip, which has been viewed nearly 200,000 times.

The Weather Channel compared the breathtaking cluster of clouds to “a UFO about to land on Earth” — and thousands of others pointed to the alien mass’s resemblance to a spacecraft.

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The footage, taken near Lansford, North Dakota, just before 9 p.m. local time on Friday, was shot shortly after officials issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area - warning of possible tornadoes and the significant hail.

The footage, taken near Lansford, North Dakota, just before 9 p.m. local time on Friday, was shot shortly after officials issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area – warning of possible tornadoes and the significant hail.

The video shows the storm cell - a line of storms moving east - in its full Friday, breathtaking glory, occupying almost the entire frame of the clip, which has been viewed 200,000 times.

The video shows the storm cell – a line of storms moving east – in its full Friday, breathtaking glory, occupying almost the entire frame of the clip, which has been viewed 200,000 times.

As the images circulated online, meteorologists warned of the dangers of such supercells — a term for an unusually large storm system — saying they can produce high winds, massive hail and even tornadoes.

As the images circulated online, meteorologists warned of the dangers of such supercells — a term for an unusually large storm system — saying they can produce high winds, massive hail and even tornadoes.

As the images circulated online, meteorologists warned of the dangers of such supercells — a term for an unusually large storm system — and said they can produce high winds, massive hail and even tornadoes.

The National Weather Service then issued a warning of severe thunderstorms in the area — warning citizens that the storm is a cyclone — as well as wind gusts up to 70 mph and “golf ball-sized hail.”

Despite this warning, the storm ultimately failed to produce a tornado, but did see several communities hit by severe hail and high-speed winds, damaging homes and knocking down trees as the system moved east across the state.

Storm chaser Shelly Heinrichs - pictured here with her partner Dan in this undated image - captured the awe-inspiring event, which brought several storms to the state and saw tornado sirens emitted as residents braced for inclement weather.

Storm chaser Shelly Heinrichs – pictured here with her partner Dan in this undated image – captured the awe-inspiring event, which brought several storms to the state and saw tornado sirens emitted as residents braced for inclement weather.

Most at risk were communities in the northeastern and central regions of the state, such as Grand Forks, Bismarck and Pekin, where houses were pelted by hail almost the size of a person’s fist, damaging vehicles and structures almost indiscriminately.

Insurance experts in the area told local NBC and Fox affiliate KFYR-TV they had received “many” calls, mainly on the north and east sides of Bismarck, reporting damage after the storm system dissipated late Saturday morning.

Homeowner Alex Weigel, who lives in north Bismarck, said his home was damaged in one of several and said he plans to file a claim.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning of severe thunderstorms in the area - warning citizens that the storm is a cyclone - as well as wind gusts up to 70 mph and

The National Weather Service has issued a warning of severe thunderstorms in the area – warning citizens that the storm is a cyclone – as well as wind gusts up to 70 mph and “golf ball-sized hail.”

“On the north side of our house, we do have some damage to the siding and fascias, gutters, downspouts, things like that,” Weigel said, adding that he had a claim for both his house and pickup, which was also damaged.

About 200 miles east in Grand Forks, where the storm hit with full force overnight, residents saw the same conditions, with a overnight, rainfall was 1.13 inches and winds reached 70 mph, knocking down several trees and power lines.

The National Weather Service has yet to report damaged structures in the region, where tornado sirens awoke civilians at about 1 a.m. warning of the approaching storms.

However, according to the National Weather Service, there were trees in the area and in other towns to the south and west, such as Crookston, Pekin, Webster and Edmore.

At greatest risk from the storms were communities in the northeastern and central regions of the state, such as Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Pekin, where houses were pelted by hail nearly the size of a person's fist, damaging vehicles and structures almost indiscriminately.

At greatest risk from the storms were communities in the northeastern and central regions of the state, such as Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Pekin, where houses were pelted by hail nearly the size of a person’s fist, damaging vehicles and structures almost indiscriminately.

About 100 miles to the north, part of neighboring Cavalier County — just south of the Canada-U.S. border — saw power outages that affected hundreds of residents overnight.

Jill Nelson, of the Grand Forks Park District, said there was no serious damage in public places, and that: it was a day of ‘light debris to pick up quickly’.

The line of storms would eventually dissipate — with less severe storms plaguing much of the state for the rest of the weekend through Monday.

Brad Hopkins, a meteorologist with the NWS, explained that the phenomenon was “basically a line of thunderstorms — a fast-moving line that developed in the west and made its way across the state. The strong wind at the top level pushed it forward.’

Another broken line storm will move through central parts of the state Tuesday night, with winds up to 40 mph and small hail possibly with the strongest storms, hitting the towns of Bottineau, Rugby, Garrison and Bismarck until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Another broken line storm will move through central parts of the state Tuesday night, with winds up to 40 mph and small hail possibly with the strongest storms, hitting the towns of Bottineau, Rugby, Garrison and Bismarck until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The area saw more severe weather Monday, with 100kph winds and slightly smaller penny-sized hail in communities in the central part of the state, such as Beulah, Hazen and New Salem.

The broken line storms will continue to move through central parts of the state Tuesday night, with winds up to 40 mph and small hail possibly with the strongest storms set to last the night. towns of Bottineau, Rugby, Garrison and Bismarck until 1am.

While severe weather is generally not expected, officials warned that wind gusts could reach up to 55 mph.

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