Minnesota has had tornadoes as early in the year as March 18 (1968) and as late as Nov. 16 (1931). This year the state has seen 20 tornadoes, fewer than average.

On April 14, 1886, Sauk Rapids was leveled by a massive tornado that left 72 dead. The twister was 800 yards wide, a tornado so big and powerful that the Mississippi River was temporarily "swept dry." St. Cloud, which experienced a glancing blow, went on to become the largest city in central Minnesota.

I find it vaguely fascinating that an 1883 F5 tornado resulted in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. A small 1981 tornado in Roseville was the inspiration behind a "Best Buy" sale that spun up a national chain based in Bloomington. A silver lining to horrifying tornadoes? Sometimes tragic circumstances have happy endings.

No weather drama brewing, just an inevitable cold frontal passage today. Friday will feel like "football weather"; time to dig out the heavy jackets. Skies clear and winds ease Friday night, setting the stage for a freeze Saturday morning. A cool, sunny weekend is shaping up; more 60s return early next week.