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Minnesota leads nation in twisters

Published 9:33am Monday, December 27, 2010

For a state that averages 27 tornadoes a year, Minnesota pulled off an upset. It led the nation in 2010 for most tornadoes, with 145.

Minnesota blew away the competition. Second place went to Texas, which had 105 tornadoes.

The figures come from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. They aren’t completely official until they are reviewed next year by the National Climate Data Center, but they aren’t likely to change enough to bump Minnesota out of first place.

The tornadoes that barreled through Minnesota on June 17, devastating the Albert Lea area countryside, went a long way toward increasing Minnesota’s count. According to tallies from the Chanhassen bureau of the National Weather Service, 48 tornadoes were spotted in the state that day, making it the day with the most tornadoes in Minnesota history.

Of those, 19 were in the counties of Freeborn, Faribault, Steele, Dodge and Blue Earth counties. Seven alone were in Freeborn County, the report says.

All others were in northern Minnesota and the northern Twin Cities metro area.

The Storm Prediction Center says more tornadoes were spotted on June 17 than any other day in 2010 in the country. There were 115. April 24 was second, with 77.

Rich Thompson, lead forecaster for the Storm Prediction Center, said of major tornado storms, some produce a single tornado that stays on the ground a long way, while others produce many tornadoes in succession.

He said it is common to see a twister form right after a nearby one dies. He said he sees a day with hundreds on a single day once every one or two years.

“This year, your county just happened to be the place they struck,” Thompson said.

According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Climatologist Peter Boulay, Minnesota totaled 24 tornadoes in 2009 and 43 in 2008. By his count, the long-term average — 1950 to 2010 — is 27 a year.

However, spotting tornadoes got better in the mid-1990s, Boulay said. Between improved technology and more weather spotters, more tornadoes get reported.

“Even with all that, this year was very exceptional,” he said.

Iowa came in 11th in the country, with 52.

Top 10 tornado states 2010
1. Minnesota: 145
2. Texas: 105
3. Kansas: 94
4. Mississippi: 75
5. Oklahoma: 73
6. North Dakota: 68
6. Wisconsin: 68
8. Colorado: 66
9. Missouri: 58
10. Illinois: 57

Top 10 tornado days 2010
1. June 17: 115
2. April 24: 77
3. June 5: 67
4. Oct. 26: 58
5. June 21: 43
6. May 1: 42
7. June 10: 42
8. April 22: 40
9. May 18: 38
10. April 30: 31