April 12-14: Severe Thunderstorms, Snow, and Wind

damage photo
Severe damage in Taopi MN, froma tornado that struck after dark on the evening of April 12, 2022.
Image credit: National Weather Service, La Crosse, WI.

Severe Thunderstorm season got off to a bang in Minnesota on Tuesday April 12th, with semi trucks blown off of I-35, two confirmed tornadoes in southeastern parts of the state, and numerous reports of large hail, as heavy snows pounded far northwestern Minnesota and a ferocious blizzard raged in neighboring North Dakota. These hazards from entirely different seasons were all caused by the weather system, as a large, long-lasting, and strong spring storm affected Minnesota for parts of four days. This was the fourth week in a row with a large mid-week weather system in Minnesota.

An intense and complex low-pressure are tracked into the Plains from Colorado, and then split near Sioux City, Iowa on Tuesday, with one circulation heading north into North Dakota and another heading towards Wisconsin. This complicated system pumped warm air, with temperatures as high as 80 degrees F, into Iowa, and dragged much colder air, often near or below freezing, into North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Thunderstorms formed from Minnesota down to Texas, while extremely heavy snows with winds of 35-50 mph lashed North Dakota.

Isolated thunderstorms first formed in south-central Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon and raced eastward and northeastward into Wisconsin. One storm surged in intensity rapidly and produced a powerful gust of wind that blew nine semi trailer-trucks over on I-35, near Faribault. The winds uprooted trees and knocked out power in parts of Rice County, while hail pelted areas near Northfield, Cannon Falls, and Red Wing. This was not the "main event" for severe weather, however.

Late in the afternoon, numerous intense thunderstorms exploded in southeastern South Dakota, Iowa, and southwestern Minnesota, lifting northeastward through 1 AM Wednesday. These storms produced many reports of large hail in Minnesota, as well as several confirmed tornadoes in Iowa.

After dark, two tornadoes struck parts of extreme southeastern Minnesota. An EF-2 tornado, with winds estimated to 130 mph, injured two people and caused extensive damage in the town of Taopi, in Mower County. The tornado destroyed or damaged many structures, snapped trees, and rolled and tossed cars. An EF-1 tornado with winds estimated to 100 mph destroyed farm buildings in Fillmore County, to the southwest of Spring Valley.

lightning photo
Lightning tears through the sky near Maplewood, MN, during one of many thunderstorms on the evening of April 12, 2022.
Image credit: Minnesota State Climatology Office

Lightning flashed throughout the evening in central, eastern, and southern Minnesota, but most of the severe storms were confined to south of line from Marshall to Forest Lake.

The thunderstorms produced narrow swaths of heavy rain, and several stations with over 50 years of observation set daily precipitation records. These included 3.05 inches at Grand Meadow, 2.46 inches at Bricelyn,  2.25 inches at Rochester, 1.74 inches at Elgin, 1.58 inches at Theilman, and 1.19 inches at Cambridge. The heavy rains caused brief flooding of the Whitewater River near Whitewater State Park.

Elsewhere in Minnesota, intense snows from the major North Dakota blizzard crept over the Red River into far northwestern Minnesota, where extreme snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour were observed during the evening. The snow had subsided by Wednesday morning, but area accumulations of 6-10 inches were common in and around Crookston and Thief River Falls. In Key West, MN, just to the east of Grand Forks, an observer reported 14 inches, which is consistent with what this wave of snow produced in the Grand Forks area.

The main low pressure are in North Dakota stayed nearly stationary during Wednesday, but its circulation pushed a strong cold front across Minnesota. Rain broke out Wednesday afternoon in northeastern Minnesota, turning to snow and slush overnight Wednesday and into Thursday.

Just after midnight on Thursday, a wave of strong winds pushed across much of Minnesota, lasting over 24 hours in some places. Winds gusted to well over 50 mph across much of the state, with gusts of 59 mph reported at Duluth, Redwood Falls, and the Twin Cities. Skies cleared out but some strong gusts continued in to Friday April 15th.

Despite being large, strong, and producing an array of hazardous weather in Minnesota, this system produce mostly moderate precipitation for this time of year. About two-thirds of the state received over a half-inch of precipitation, and about one-third of the area received an inch or more. Areas of central, western, and southwestern Minnesota received under a half-inch of precipitation.

The National Weather Service offices in the Twin Cities and Duluth provided the following wind gust reports.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT  
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN  
716 PM CDT THU APR 14 2022  
..HIGHEST WIND REPORTS  
LOCATION                     SPEED     TIME/DATE       PROVIDER               
REDWOOD FALLS AP             59 MPH    0109 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AP      59 MPH    0213 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
ALEXANDRIA MN ASOS           56 MPH    0410 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
HANLEY FALLS MN-23 MILE POST 55 MPH    0750 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
FAIRMONT AP                  54 MPH    1036 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
ST. JAMES AP                 54 MPH    1136 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
EAU CLAIRE AP                54 MPH    0244 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
MAPLE LAKE                   54 MPH    0245 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
MADISON AP                   53 MPH    0155 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
EDINA                        53 MPH    0415 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
BLUE EARTH 2NW               53 MPH    0420 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
NEW ULM AP                   52 MPH    1135 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
GRANITE FALLS AP             52 MPH    1135 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
CRYSTAL AP                   52 MPH    0143 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
CANBY AP                     52 MPH    0155 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
WINTHROP 2W                  52 MPH    0200 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
EDEN PRAIRIE AP              52 MPH    0224 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
ST. CLOUD AP                 52 MPH    0456 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
STARBUCK 8SSW                52 MPH    0500 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
MANKATO AP                   51 MPH    1008 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
MARIETTA 5SSW                51 MPH    1105 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
OLIVIA AP                    51 MPH    1135 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
MENOMONIE AP                 51 MPH    0235 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
BURNSVILLE 2NNW              51 MPH    0430 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
CANNON FALLS 7SSE            50 MPH    1120 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
ELLENDALE 5NNE               50 MPH    1151 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
NEW GERMANY 1NW              50 MPH    1205 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
LYDIA                        50 MPH    0435 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
MONTEVIDEO AP                49 MPH    1115 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
WASECA 1SSE                  49 MPH    1146 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
APPLETON AP                  49 MPH    1253 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
NEW PRAGUE 2W                49 MPH    0235 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
MORRIS AP                    49 MPH    0355 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
CLARA CITY 2WSW              49 MPH    0400 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
VICTORIA                     48 MPH    1031 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
MANKATO US-169 MILE POST 52  48 MPH    1050 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
MADELIA 3ENE                 48 MPH    1150 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
EAU CLAIRE                   48 MPH    0149 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
GIBBON                       48 MPH    0216 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
SAUK CENTRE AP               48 MPH    0355 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
HENDERSON 4ENE               48 MPH    0416 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
BELGRADE 3ESE                48 MPH    0545 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
MORTON MN-19 MILE POST 78    47 MPH    0805 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
BENSON AP                    47 MPH    0855 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
MINNESOTA LAKE               47 MPH    0930 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
RED WING 4W                  47 MPH    1120 AM 04/14   MNDOT                  
WASECA AP                    47 MPH    0204 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
SILVER LAKE 3E               47 MPH    0251 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
LITCHFIELD 3S                47 MPH    0311 PM 04/14   RAWS                   
ST. PAUL DWTN AP             47 MPH    0314 PM 04/14   ASOS                   
BLAINE AP                    47 MPH    0350 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
STAR PRAIRIE                 47 MPH    0408 PM 04/14   RAWS                   
ALEXANDRIA 2SSE              47 MPH    0420 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
HOPE                         46 MPH    1030 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
EASTON                       46 MPH    1200 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
MAYER 1NE                    46 MPH    0215 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
MOUND                        46 MPH    0300 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
OWATONNA AP                  46 MPH    0333 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
GLENWOOD AP                  46 MPH    0435 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
HUTCHINSON AP                45 MPH    1055 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
ALBERT LEA AP                45 MPH    1155 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
WILLMAR AP                   45 MPH    1228 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
COON RAPIDS                  45 MPH    0339 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
PAYNESVILLE AP               44 MPH    1155 AM 04/14   AWOS                   
BUFFALO AP                   44 MPH    1215 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
DUNDAS 5WNW                  44 MPH    0315 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
LITCHFIELD AP                44 MPH    0315 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
RED WING                     44 MPH    0325 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
LAKE ELMO AP                 44 MPH    0335 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
ELKO NEW MARKET              44 MPH    0450 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
COMFREY                      43 MPH    0950 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
ROSCOE                       43 MPH    1205 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
ROSCOE                       43 MPH    1205 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
FARIBAULT AP                 43 MPH    0155 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
PRIOR LAKE                   43 MPH    0330 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
CHETEK AP                    43 MPH    0335 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
EAU CLAIRE                   43 MPH    0348 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
SPRING LAKE PARK             43 MPH    0415 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
CLEARWATER 1SE               43 MPH    0445 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
SAUK CENTRE 2SE              43 MPH    0450 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
HILLMAN                      43 MPH    0538 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
MADISON                      42 MPH    0816 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
GANOE HILL                   42 MPH    0307 PM 04/14   RAWS                   
ALBANY                       42 MPH    0515 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
GLENCOE AP                   41 MPH    0115 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
EAU CLAIRE                   41 MPH    0149 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
CARVER 3S                    41 MPH    0349 PM 04/14   RAWS                   
LAKEVILLE AP                 41 MPH    0355 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
NEW RICHMOND AP              41 MPH    0415 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
SARTELL                      41 MPH    0415 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
FARIBAULT                    41 MPH    0615 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
TONY AP                      41 MPH    0635 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
BLAINE                       40 MPH    0855 AM 04/14   CWOP                   
CUMBERLAND AP                40 MPH    0135 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
SOUTH ST. PAUL AP            40 MPH    0155 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
COLFAX 7ESE                  40 MPH    0230 PM 04/14   CWOP                   
STANTON AP                   40 MPH    0259 PM 04/14   AWOS                   
ST. PAUL 1NNE                40 MPH    0350 PM 04/14   MNDOT                  
BLAINE                       40 MPH    0350 PM 04/14   MESOWEST
---
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT  
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN  
815 AM CDT WED APR 13 2022  
..HIGHEST WIND REPORTS  
LOCATION                     SPEED     TIME/DATE       PROVIDER               
DULUTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 59 MPH    0209 AM 04/13   ASOS                   
BAY OF GRAND MARAIS          55 MPH    0717 AM 04/13   ASOS                   
THOMPSON HILL I-35 MP 248    55 MPH    0224 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
1 N PORT WING                53 MPH    1140 PM 04/12   NDBC                   
DULUTH SKY HARBOR AIRPORT    49 MPH    0155 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
DULUTH I-35 AND GARFIELD     49 MPH    0109 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
TWO HARBORS AIRPORT          48 MPH    0335 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
4 NE DULUTH                  47 MPH    1006 PM 04/12   CWOP                   
DULUTH HARBOR                45 MPH    0112 AM 04/13   NOS-NWLON              
SAGINAW RAWS                 44 MPH    0208 AM 04/13   RAWS                   
DEVILS ISLAND                43 MPH    0500 AM 04/13   NDBC                   
BLATNIK BRIDGE SOUTH         42 MPH    1212 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
ANDERSON ROAD RWIS           41 MPH    1240 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
ATKINSON BRIDGE I-35 MP 231  41 MPH    0221 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
1 SSE SILVER BAY             41 MPH    0340 AM 04/13   NDBC                   
TWO HARBORS                  40 MPH    0205 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
CLOQUET AIRPORT              40 MPH    0135 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
TWIG MN-53 MP 21             40 MPH    0136 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
CHISHOLM-HIBBING AIRPORT     39 MPH    0340 AM 04/13   ASOS                   
GRAND MARAIS AIRPORT         38 MPH    0756 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
SUPERIOR AIRPORT             38 MPH    1235 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
LA POINTE                    37 MPH    0115 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
ESKO                         37 MPH    0225 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
LA POINTE AIRPORT            37 MPH    0115 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
COTTON US-53 MP 41           37 MPH    0520 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
HINCKLEY I-35 MILE POST 181  37 MPH    0545 PM 04/12   MNDOT                  
FRENCH RIVER                 36 MPH    0610 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
ISABELLA RAWS                36 MPH    0804 AM 04/13   RAWS                   
HAYWARD AIRPORT              36 MPH    0303 PM 04/12   ASOS                   
PLINY MN-65 MP 98            36 MPH    1051 PM 04/12   MNDOT                  
1 W BAYFIELD                 35 MPH    0329 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
BAYFIELD                     35 MPH    0300 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
BRAINERD AIRPORT             35 MPH    0952 PM 04/12   ASOS                   
MCGREGOR AIRPORT             35 MPH    0355 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
INTERNATIONAL FALLS AIRPORT  35 MPH    0216 AM 04/13   ASOS                   
HIBBING RAWS                 34 MPH    0507 AM 04/13   RAWS                   
RICE LAKE NWR RAWS           34 MPH    1152 PM 04/12   RAWS                   
DULUTH 1.8 NE                33 MPH    0115 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
CASS LAKE US-2 MP 131        33 MPH    0850 PM 04/12   MNDOT                  
MITCHELL BRIDGE MN-169 MP 34 32 MPH    0405 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
WINTON                       31 MPH    0715 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
DANBURY                      31 MPH    0225 PM 04/12   CWOP                   
EVELETH-VIRGINIA AIRPORT     31 MPH    0424 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
SPOONER                      31 MPH    0300 PM 04/12   MESOWEST               
WASHBURN RAWS                31 MPH    0102 AM 04/13   RAWS                   
GRAND PORTAGE                30 MPH    0545 AM 04/13   CWOP                   
HINCKLEY AIRPORT             30 MPH    0535 PM 04/12   AWOS                   
AITKIN AIRPORT               30 MPH    0255 AM 04/13   AWOS                   
ASHLAND AIRPORT              30 MPH    0105 AM 04/13   ASOS                   
PHILLIPS AIRPORT             30 MPH    0515 PM 04/12   AWOS                   
PINE RIVER AIRPORT           30 MPH    0635 PM 04/12   AWOS                   
GRAND PORTAGE RWIS           30 MPH    0635 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
BALL BLUFF RWIS              30 MPH    0321 AM 04/13   MNDOT                  
SKIBO RAWS                   30 MPH    0622 AM 04/13   RAWS                   
OBSERVATIONS ARE COLLECTED FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES WITH VARYING  
EQUIPMENT AND EXPOSURES. WE THANK ALL VOLUNTEER WEATHER OBSERVERS   
FOR THEIR DEDICATION. NOT ALL DATA LISTED ARE CONSIDERED OFFICIAL.                 

 

The National Weather Service office in La Crosse created this detailed summary of the southeastern Minnesota tornadoes and other severe weather in their forecast area.

 

Modified April 15, 2022