Severe weather season quickly ramping up

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While we have seen our first couple of severe weather events in the state so far this warm season, get ready for plenty more as June is when our severe weather season really gets going.

As we’ve seen time and time again, spring can bring anything to Minnesota. From record breaking snows to record breaking heat, we have seen plenty already in the last couple of months. Severe weather season has been off to a reasonably slow start, but that should all be changing in the days and weeks ahead. 

In the average year, more than 80 percent of our severe weather is reported in June, July and August. While we can get the occasional severe weather outbreak in April, May, and then again in September and October, they’re usually few and far between, and don’t happen every year. But every year, like clockwork, our severe weather season grabs us in early June and will hang around through the Minnesota State Fair.

Tornadoes statewide are no different. We average 36 tornadoes a year, with 31 of those coming in the summer months. In fact, Minnesota is on average the most tornadic state in the U.S. in the month of July, averaging 11 every year. We are tied for first in August as well with an average of five tornadoes during that month. While we are only talking about tornadoes, wind and hail have very similar trends, with both typically peaking in June and July before trailing off as we head back to school.

This year, however, severe weather has been somewhat hard to come by nationwide, at least compared to years past. The U.S. has yet to pass 500 tornadoes for the year and are actually at our lowest level this far into the year since 2005. The main culprit of that was our big swing in temps in April and May.  In many cases, April was just too cold for significant severe weather. Then in May, we jumped into summer mode where conditions were just too warm to get any significant outbreaks from happening in the typical tornado prone areas.

So what are we expecting for severe weather season this year? Well, if nationwide trends hold, it may be down from previous years. The last two years we have seen over 600 reports of severe weather statewide. The several years before that, we were around 400 reports. So far, we’ve seen just over 100. But with a hotter than average summer a little more likely this year, it could go either way. We could be just too hot with too big of a lid on the atmosphere to get storms going OR if storms can develop in that environment, then severe weather would be more likely. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.