Mailbag: Minnesota’s tornado alley

In the comments section of this week’s (last week’s?) News Cut Quiz, one of our more faithful readers says…

Noting that tornadoes came up in a discussion with a neighbor last night. He claimed there’s a higher propensity for the north metro to get hit, while the southern suburbs rarely do. Where did you find the numbers about the north side’s likelihood for tornadoes vs. nationwide?

This was based on a question that was in this week’s News Cut Quiz and the simple answer is I found the data on the Web site,

But to the question itself, your friend appears to be incorrect based on the data. But I probably would’ve guessed that to, especially in talking to the people in Rogers who, it seems, have more than their fair share of serious weather.

But according to the data, it’s the I-90 corridor in southern Minnesota that has the highest percentage ABOVE the historical national average.

Consider these numbers:

  • Albert Lea – 88% higher
  • Worthington – 71% higher
  • Austin – 82% higher

    The North Metro, on the other hand, has historical rates in the vicinity of 30-40% higher, such as:

  • Anoka – 31% higher
  • Brooklyn Park – 35% higher
  • Elk River – 24% higher
  • Arden Hills – 27% higher

    And the south to south-central area is slightly higher:

  • Apple Valley – 46% higher
  • Lakeville – 48% higher
  • Mankato – 51% higher
  • Rochester – 46% higher
  • Woodbury – 33% higher

    Not terribly surprising, the northwest corner of the state below the national average:

  • Alexandria – 19% lower
  • Detroit Lakes – 30% lower
  • Bemidji – 71% lower

    Got a question related to the news? Fire away.

    • bsimon

      Bob- thanks for collating that data. My neighbor’s point is refuted – as he thinks the Eagan/Apple Valley area does not get hit at the same frequency as the north metro.

    • Matt

      I am not surprised at all. I mean Alexandria has NEVER seen a direct hit of a tornado and the town is now 150 years old. It all makes sense now.