Weather fascinates me.
I have absolutely no expertise in meteorology or climatology, but weather is one of the most interesting subjects I get to cover for this newspaper. Why is hard to say exactly. Perhaps because of its unpredictability — from minor inconvenience to devastation from one event to the next. Perhaps because it’s one area that can’t be 100 percent predicted, sometimes making writers look rather foolish, but is 100 percent documented, allowing writers to share a history with others.
As we close out 2010 with the possibility of freezing rain followed by several inches of snow, I’d like to share the top five weather events for 2010 from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, a few of which affected the Brainerd area. Hopefully what’s coming won’t measure up, but be safe anyway on New Year’s Eve.
To see the group’s list including links to the individual events, go here: http://climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/top_five_2010.htm
Top Five Weather Events of 2010 in Minnesota
No. 5 — 104 Tornadoes for 2010
After a fairly quiet tornado season in 2009 with 24 tornadoes, 2010 had the most tornadoes on record for Minnesota with 104. The previous record was 74 set back in 2001. A good portion of the tornadoes for 2010 occurred on June 17, with 48 tornadoes. Luckily there was only one other tornado outside the June 17th outbreak to cause an injury. This year’s United States tornado statistics have yet to be finalized to see if Minnesota has the most tornadoes than any other state for 2010. The only other state that is close is Texas with a preliminary total of 105, but final statistics tend to be lower than the preliminary figures.
No. 4 — Heavy Rain and Flooding of September 22-23, 2010
This was the largest flood event to hit southern Minnesota since August 18-20, 2007. Heavy rains fell on already saturated soil over southern Minnesota. The highest rainfall total found from a National Weather Service Observer was 10.68 inches at Amboy. Swollen creeks and rivers left their banks and flooded neighborhoods in communities such as Owatonna, Pine Island, Pipestone, Truman, St. James, Zumbro Falls, and many others. 80% the homes in Truman located in Martin County had a foot of water in their homes. I-35 was closed for several hours on September 24 in Steele County and businesses in downtown Owatonna were flooded. Parts of Highway 169 between St. Peter and LeSueur was destroyed by the rising Minnesota River. Water levels on many southern Minnesota rivers and streams approached or exceeded all-time highs.
No. 3 — Blizzard of December 10-11, 2010
This blizzard will be remembered as the one that deflated the dome in the 21st century. At 17.1 inches it was the largest snowstorm on record for December, and the fifth largest in the Twin Cities going back to 1891. This was an enormous storm and blanketed central and southern Minnesota with 4 to 12 inches of snow. The Twin Cities International Airport reported heavy snow with a quarter of a mile visibility or less for five hours straight from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 11th and was closed for four hours with this storm. Due to the fairly high water content of the snow, it was difficult to shovel and move.
No. 2 — Record Low Pressure: October 26, 2010
A low pressure system that would have been more at home over the ocean, intensified over the heart of North America and became the lowest pressure measured in Minnesota. The lowest pressure recorded was 28.21 inches at 5:13 p.m. at Bigfork in Itasca. The old record was 28.43 inches on November 10, 1998 at Albert Lea. Because of the lower pressure, water at Bigfork at that moment would boil three degrees cooler Fahrenheit than at a standard atmosphere of 29.92 inches (209 degrees F instead of 212 degrees F). While there wasn’t abundant moisture with this system, there were some very strong winds. The peak wind gust reported in Minnesota was 65 mph at Georgeville in Stearns County and Mehurin Township in Lac Qui Parle County.
No. 1 — Tornado Outbreak of June 17
A record-setting 48 tornadoes touched down in Minnesota on June 17, 2010. This was the largest tornado outbreak in Minnesota history, eclipsing the previous one day record of 27 on June 16, 1992. Three persons died, and there were 45 injuries. Not only were there a large number of tornadoes, there were three EF-4 tornadoes, the greatest number in once day in Minnesota since the Black Sunday tornado outbreak on April 30, 1967. Even taking in account increased technology and number of storm spotters, it will remain for some time one of the region’s most widespread, numerous and destructive outbreaks. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx/?n=blacksunday
Snowless March 2010
It may seem like a distant memory now, but March 2010 was virtually snow-free across Minnesota. Zero snowfall was measured at the Twin Cities International Airport, making March 2010 the least snowiest in the modern record going back to 1891. The “snowiest” place in the state was International Falls with a measly two tenths of an inch of snowfall for the month.