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Graphic by Todd Krause/National Weather Service in Chanhassen A map of the final 2010 tornado count shows above average activity in Minnesota. The June 17 EF4 tornadoes of Otter Tail and Wadena counties are shown in red with their respective paths.

Calmer summer weather pattern expected in central Minnesota

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Calmer summer weather pattern expected in central Minnesota
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

As Minnesotans gripe about a cold spring season, they are also bracing for the inevitable summer storms, and destructive tornadoes have already roared through the South causing much death and destruction. Some of these April outbreaks were called a Particularly Dangerous Situation, the same label given to June 17, 2010 in Minnesota.

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According to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, however, Minnesota's tornado season this year should not be as bad as last year.

Jim Kaiser, intern meteorologist at NWS-Grand Forks, said the Climate Prediction Center outlook has indicated that temperatures will be below normal into June.

"How that would relate to severe weather/tornado activity, we could probably expect to see our peak days mid to late June through July which is pretty typical for the northern plains. It is too early to say how active we're going to be day to day," he said.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Greg Gust said that 2011 so far has been similar to 2009, which had a La Nina winter.

"By the time you got into the end of the summer, the overall severe weather for this northern plains and central plains was half of normal. That was 2009. This year is kind of following a similar trend, but it's undecided whether or not that La Nina is going to succeed in breaking down early or not," Gust said.

He said that hot and wet weather is more conducive to tornadoes, while hot and dry weather is less conducive and cold weather is also less conducive.

"Clearly there's energy right now in the southern branch of the polar jetstream. It's just whether or not the northern branch stays cool or if it allows some of that heat and humidity to get up here early," he said. "If we do have cooler weather persisting into May and June, that would tend to reduce the number of tornadoes overall for the summer. And then I would put the caveat: However, National Weather Service does encourage people to pay attention to the weather, to know where their shelters are, and if severe weather threatens, to get to those shelters."

Gust said that in a normal year, Wadena County and most other counties in western, central and southern Minnesota can expect to see an average of one tornado per year. Larger counties like Otter Tail can expect two.

2010 was well above average.

"That was hell on wheels for severe weather -- as people in Wadena well know. But it was a record setting year across the state by more than double the typical amount of tornadoes," Gust said.

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