Meteorologists map tornado touch-downs - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Meteorologists map tornado touch-downs

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Meteorologists are always looking for patterns in the weather, so what if you could see a 60-year history of tornadoes in just a few seconds?

The data dates back to 1950, which is when the National Weather Service started keeping records -- but the data shows more than where the tornado touchd down. It also shows the path the twister took and what its intensity was on the F scale.

"It certainly is impressive looking," said Todd Krause, a meteorologist with the NWS who helps keep Mother Nature's score when it comes to where and when tornadoes strike.

Still, Krause says not even he is used to seeing his data used in maps.

Thanks to Doppler radar and suburban sprawl, even the smallest tornadoes in rural areas make it into the record books -- but looking back at 60 years of tornado data month by month shows another pattern emerging: The northern migration of tornadoes over the summer.

The map data suggests that Tornado Alley may be creeping ever closer to the Twin Cities, with he most prevalent time falling in June, July and August.

"Lately, in the last 10 or 20 years, with that northern push of humid air further and further, we're seeing more severe weather events in the northern states," said FOX 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard. "That's something we have to get used to."

Krause says each year brings peaks and valleys in tornado statistics, but 2010 earned a dubious distinction of seeing 113 tornadoes touch down in Minnesota -- more than in Texas or Oklahoma.

Now, Minnesota finds itself in the grip of a persistent storm pattern. Tornadoes can happen anywhere and move in any direction.

"All those adages -- being near a river or a city -- they're all wive's tales," Leonard said.

So far, the state has enjoyed a relatively mild summer -- but the data shows that anything can happen. There have been 25 recorded tornadoes in 2012, and the state average is about 37 a year.

Yet, while the number of recorded tornadoes has been increasing, the number of deaths has actually declined. In the last 20 years, 11 people were killed by tornadoes.

The deadliest tornado in Minnesota history was in 1886 in St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids. It killed 72 people.

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