Extreme Weather Re-Cap For St.Cloud And Central Minnesota, 2011

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       WEATHER RE-CAP 2011. Spring in St. Cloud gave an unusual hint that things to come might be on the line of the unexpected – or maybe even extreme. An April snowfall christened the city with a beautiful, albeit unseasonable layer of snow crystals that completely vanished within hours.

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       Days after the actual snowfall, Flight Flash (RPNS) produced this screen test to chronical weather in the local media…It was only an experiment and my friend Kaylene stepped up to be the on-camera reporter.

       In the moments we began to film this, the first wave of terrible storms were beginning to unfold throughout the South. The laptop radar captures a view of  this data. We used the images to train how to spot tornadoes from the national radar mosaic. Little did we know, we were studying what was about to become one of the biggest outbreaks of tornadoes in history. This left an unforgettable urgency to document and promote weather safety in the St.Cloud area.

       A month later, a small storm followed by a display of heat lightning reminiscent of 4th of July fireworks, paid our city a visit in May. At the same time, only an hour away, Minneapolis was recovering from a tornado touchdown that claimed one life.

       Then, on the first day of summer (June 21, 2011), rain fell on our city to such an extreme that it flooded several streets…and it wouldn’t be the last time this year.

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       The sky hadn’t finished. Not much more than a week later on July 1st, a very serious wind storm dropped a weak tornado in the Waite Park area, and pushed winds into the North side of downtown St. Cloud where dozens upon dozens of trees were pushed flat. The fact that these trees blocked many routes to the St.Cloud Hospital made the situation that much more serious, and our city went directly into action.


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Compare an image of Whitney Field only a few weeks before as a thunderstorm approached…

…and then 3 weeks later as it became the city’s compost site for downed trees.

       In St.Cloud, it seemed the worst of summer storms had to be behind us for 2011, but the weather was unrelenting. Rains continued to bring flooding that swelled the Sauk River, and endangered some of our young citizens and rescue personnel. For 3 days in a row, rescues and the recovery of a swamped rescue boat on the Sauk River held our attention in the news. The oppressive heat index which pressed beyond 100 degrees for a few days in these weeks probably drew people to the river to cool down in spite of the apparent danger.

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       Then came lightning! An intense electrical storm wrought fury in the St.Cloud metro…sending 6 to the hospital and alerts of fire from lightning scrambled firefighters to the rescue. This video captures St.Mary’s Cathedral in downtown St.Cloud receiving a direct strike from lightning.

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       The math…a simple calclulation determining distance by speed of sound, supports that the lightning bolt in the video did in fact strike the Cathedral. This video by the RPNS for WJON.

       The very next day on August 2, an early morning storm focused it’s energy again on Central Minnesota and winds more than 60Mph again destroyed trees and did damage in our area. This satellite image shows the cell expanding upward directly over the St.Cloud area.

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       Interestingly, our busy and diverse summer weather comes a year after Mn set the national record for the number of tornado touchdowns. It also came on the 125th anniversary of the 1886 tornado that did history-changing damage to our community, and weeks after storms that brought unimagineable devestation in the South. This post is written in reflection of the events this year that took lives, changed landscapes, and won’t be forgotten in our country nor in our own city and surroundings.

       Meet Steve of Flight Flash and view a large collection of his aerial photographs at Paper Collector Gallery during the Sizzling Summer Art Crawl on August 19-20 in Downtown St. Cloud, right across from the historic Stearns County Courthouse in the heart of St.Cloud.

Check out this post from the Flight Flash archives: It was June 17, 2010 and we were the first to spot and report a weak tornado that hovered over the Buffalo, Mn area that day. https://flightflash.com/buffalo-storm-spotting

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