Tornado Alley moved to Minnesota in 2010.
Maybe we should update the state slogan to say; "Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and 100 tornadoes."
We all know it's been an insanely busy severe weather year in Minnesota, but I about leaped out of my weather lab chair when I counted up the preliminary number of SPC tornado reports by state for 2010.
Minnesota leads the nation in the number of tornado touchdowns this year...by FAR.
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Preliminary numbers show Minnesota has 122 tornado reports so far in 2010. The #2 state isn't even close. Texas has reported 87 tornadoes so far in 2010.
That's right folks; the frozen tundra of Minnesota has had 35 more tornado reports this year than Tornado Alley Texas.
Here are the top 5 "tornado states" for 2010.
(Keep in mind these are preliminary numbers through August 15th)
1) Minnesota 122 tornado reports
2) Texas 87 tornado reports
3) Kansas 80 tornado reports
4) Oklahoma 70 tornado reports
5) Colorado 62 tornado reports
Wisconsin comes in 6th with 59 tornado reports so far this year.
The numbers are stunning and remarkable for many reasons.
-This would be the first year in recorded history that Minnesota leads the nation in tornado touchdowns. (I'm still working on confirming this.)
-Since 2000 Texas has lead the nation in tornadoes 7 years. Kansas has lead twice, and Illinois once. Here are the numbers.
2009 Texas 125 tornadoes
2008 Kansas 185 tornadoes
2007 Texas 198 tornadoes
2006 Illinois 123 tornadoes
2005 Kansas 136 tornadoes
2004 Texas 178 tornadoes
2003 Texas 155 tornadoes
2002 Texas 172 tornadoes
2001 Texas 137 tornadoes
2000 Texas 146 tornadoes
-Texas would need to record roughly another 36 tornadoes to surpass Minnesota this year. This is certainly possible, but it seems just as likely Minnesota may hold onto the number one spot at this late point in the season.
-This year may possibly break the all time state record for confirmed tornadoes in Minnesota, which is 74 set in 2001.
I've talked with several local weather and climate experts over the years who have noticed a trend toward increasing tornado numbers in Minnesota. The long term annual average for tornadoes in Minnesota since 1950 is about 26. In the past decade, that number has risen to around 40 tornadoes per year. 2010 blows that number off the charts so far.
The bottom line is tornado alley is shifting north, and it set up shop right over Minnesota this year. There are several possible explanations including random variability and...wait for it.... climate change. As heat and moisture shifts north it is perfectly logical and within the realm of possibility that tornado alley is shifting north into Minnesota.
The NWS and Storm Prediction Center will sift through all the preliminary tornado reports this year. If Minnesota ends up #1 in tornado reports in the nation in 2010 when all the numbers are counted, it will be one of the most unprecedented weather events in decades if not a century.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to live in tornado alley, now you know. Stay tuned as the final numbers are tallied for 2010 in the coming months. We're living some incredible weather history, right here in Minnesota this year.