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North Minneapolis

McKenna Ewen, Star Tribune

Proof that tornadoes do hit metro areas

  • May 23, 2011 - 8:20 AM

Metro residents were reminded yet again Sunday that tornadoes really can hit crowded cities, even in Minnesota.

The twister or twisters that tore through north Minneapolis and parts of Fridley and other suburbs came less than a year and a half after another tornado snuck up on south Minneapolis, damaging the Minneapolis Convention Center, a downtown church and a nearby record store, after tearing off roofs and toppling trees farther south in Minneapolis.

"There's a belief that tornadoes don't hit big metro areas, but they do," White Bear Lake meteorologist Frank Watson said. Tornadoes are relatively small, so the chances of any particular place being hit is also small, Watson pointed out. But an April 22 tornado in St. Louis damaged nearly 2,000 homes. Five days later a tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Ala., killing 32 people in that city alone.

Indeed, many inner-Twin Cities neighborhoods and lives have been reshaped by encounters with tornadoes. Some examples from recent decades:

April 26, 1984: A tornado that hits a shopping center in St. Anthony, just north of Minneapolis, kills one and injures 52.

June 14, 1981: A twister runs from Edina to Har Mar Mall in Roseville, killing one and injuring 83.

May 6, 1965: A tornado that followed a very similar course to Sunday's killed six people and injured 158 in its 18-mile path. It was one of five tornadoes to hit heavily populated parts of the metro that day, killing 13 people overall and injuring 683. It was the metro area's worst tornado encounter on record.

BILL MCAULIFFE

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