It has now been 3 years since a strong EF-1 tornado pushed through parts of St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Mounds View, Fridley, and Blaine causing extensive tree damage, tearing roofs off of buildings, and toppling over a train.
Not exactly what you would call the perfect, or stereotypical, severe weather day, as temperatures through much of the metro were stuck in the 60’s, but a strong area of low pressure was moving through the state creating plenty of spin in the atmosphere. Sometimes this is the only component you need to get tornadoes to form. As it moved through, winds were coming into the metro from all different directions creating a “funnel” effect giving the metro near perfect conditions to get tornado spin ups if thunderstorms were to move through. You can see this funnel effect on the surface map from that afternoon below:
The metro is sitting right along the warm front that has been drawn into the graphic, along with the black lines that indicate wind direction across central MN.
The main tornado (first of 3 for the area) touched down in St. Louis Park about 2:15pm right on top of 2 businesses that sustained roof damage. It was moving northeast about 45 mph knocking down many trees, causing windows to blow out, and parts of roofs to be sheared off. It was about a half mile wide moving through western and northern parts of Minneapolis where the heaviest damage occurred at the top of EF-1 scale with winds estimated to be just over 100 mph. The damage continued northeast, crossing the river, and continuing for a few more miles through many residential communities in Mounds View and Fridley before lifting on the southern end of the Blaine airport.
Roof damage in St. Louis Park
Home damage in north Minneapolis
Tree damage in Fridley
When all was done, the tornado was on the ground for a little over 14 miles and lasted about 20 minutes. Here is what the radar looked like when the tornado was moving through north Minneapolis, at its strongest point.
I have circled the area the tornado was in. Notice the “hook” shape in the radar image indicating strong rotation. This is a pretty classic tornadic signature on radar. If that doesn’t scream tornado, then this should. This is the storm relative velocity taken at the very same time the radar image above was taken.