the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported one person was killed after a grain bin fell on a car in Kandiyohi County, Minn., which is about 85 miles west of the Twin Cities.
The dust cloud swept up by the storm produced scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Technically called a “haboob,” it swallowed entire communities as the storm complex, racing northeast at breakneck speeds of 65 to 85 mph, turned day into night.
Producing widespread damage along an extensive path, the storm complex met the criteria of a straight — the meteorological term for an arcing, fast-moving line of violent storms whose damage can be comparable to a hurricane.
The evening’s most extreme wind gust — 107 mph — was clocked in Hutchinson County, SD, which is about 50 miles west of Sioux Falls.
Other top likes included:
- 102 mph in Deuel County, SD
- 97 mph in Madison, SD
- 96 mph in Wentworth, SD
- 94 mph in Madison, Minn.
- 90 mph in Huron, SD
- 89 mph in Ord, Neb.
- 80 mph in Artichoke, Minn.
- 79 mph in Graceville, Minn.
- 75 mph in Canby, Minn.
As of 10:30 pm Eastern time, the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had received 55 reports of winds gusting over 74 mph. second most on record for a calendar day. The recordholder for the most 74+ mph likes occurred less than six months ago: Dec. 15, 2021.
The Weather Service also issued numerous tornado warnings due to small areas of rotation embedded within the bowing storm complex. Just two twisters had been confirmed through 9:30 pm — one of which damaged two homes and the north side of a school in Castlewood, SD, which is about 80 miles north of Sioux Falls.
Reports to the Weather Service indicated that the right’s high winds uprooted trees, downed wires, flattened fences, blew off shingles and even peeled off entire roofs in some instances. Numerous sheds and barns were destroyed.
The Weather Service also received multiple reports of tractor trailers blown over; in Holt County, Neb., one person was injured.
The Weather Service had highlighted the areas hardest hit declaring a level 4 out of 5 risk of severe thunderstorms Thursday morning and then issued a “particularly dangerous situation” severe thunderstorm watch in the afternoon, reserved for the most serious storm potential.
As the storms closed in, it issued dire warnings which triggered Wireless Emergency Alerts. The warnings called for winds of 80 to 100 mph as the storms bolted northeastward. In a warning for portions of west-central Minnesota, the Weather Service office in the Twin cities wrote: “THESE ARE DESTRUCTIVE STORMS,” noting they could produce 100 mph winds. “You are in a life-threatening situation,” the warning stated.
I-90 from Mitchell to Sioux Falls through 600 pm will see wind likes of 80 to 100 mph, with the strongest likes coming from a more southerly direction, making travel on I-90 VERY DANGEROUS DURING THIS TIME!!
— NWS Sioux Falls (@NWSSiouxFalls) May 12, 2022
The event was, in some ways, reminiscent of the Iowa right of August 2020the most costly thunderstorm disaster in US history.
The storm complex was fueled by a sprawling heat dome responsible for setting record highs from Texas to Maine. The hottest temperatures—relative to normal—focused in the Upper Midwest. The storms erupted as this hot air was met by much cooler air encroaching from the northwest.
as with the violent thunderstorm and tornado outbreaks in December, the intensity of this event raises questions about the possible role of human-caused climate change. The December outbreaks were similarly fueled by record-breaking temperatures which climate change makes more likely.