Nov 1, 2010

An absolutely historic weather event took place on Tuesday, October 26, 2010. It occurred in the Midwest and especially in the State of Minnesota. An incredibly intense low pressure system tracked due north from southern into  northern Minnesota. As it was moving north it kept intensifying so that by Tuesday afternoon it reached a pressure of 28.20 inches of mercury or 955 Millibars. This was the lowest pressure ever observed for the interior U.S. The previous record was established over Cleveland, Ohio back on January 16, 1978. That pressure reached 28.28 inches of mercury or 958 Millibars.

To put Tuesday’s storm into context, a lot of the hurricanes do not reach a pressure this low. There have been instances when there has been a little lower recorded pressure, but that has been in the Northeast U.S. coastal areas with the help of energy from the Atlantic Ocean. But again, for the interior U.S. we have never seen a pressure as low as that observed over northern Minnesota on Tuesday. There has been some talk the past couple days that the storm which caused “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” over Lake Superior back in November of 1974 was the most powerful storm ever. That could not be further from the truth. The lowest pressure observed with that storm was only 980 Millibars.

Needless to say, the recent “bomb” (this word is often used to describe extremely intense low pressure systems) of a storm resulted in incredibly strong winds across the Midwest Tuesday and Wednesday. Westerly winds gusted to over 60 mph at times in the Cornbelt resulting in some damage.

Up in North Dakota, not only did the winds gust to near hurricane force (70 mph) at times, but also there was heavy wet snow with blinding visibility (blizzard). By Thursday, October 28, the low pressure system now centered over Ontario in Canada had weakened a lot and the winds had diminished to only about 15-20 mph. across the nation’s mid section.

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