Friday, October 29, 2010
"an extratropical cyclone of rare intensity"
We Minnesotans like to talk about the weather. At my workplace there is often an undeclared competition over who had the lowest overnight temperature, or the most rain in the rain gauge. But don’t think for a moment that we would dare call two days of gusty winds, heavy rain, and even snow by a name as exotic as “cyclone”. We get blizzards here, not hurricanes. This enhanced satellite picture, taken at about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, sure looks like a hurricane, though! And I was just south of the eye.
I had been hearing since Monday that rain and heavy winds were expected starting Tuesday. The Hermit spent the day bringing wood in the house and putting tarps over outdoor wood piles. The rain began Tuesday morning, and all afternoon I had the strange sensation that my sinuses were about to explode. This was due to the record low air pressure that was making its way across northern Minnesota. By afternoon the wind was starting to pick up.
Starflower and I had play practice in the evening, and indoors we could hear the wind blasting the upper level of the auditorium as the rain pounded the roof. Meanwhile, out on the football field, our high school’s team was battling the extreme conditions and came out with a 48-0 victory in their first playoff game. Go Eagles!
Our drive home was interrupted by a large spruce that had fallen and was blocking the road. It had to be a good two feet in diameter at the base. I had to take a three mile detour, all the while thinking about trees, wind, and power lines. I was happy to see the lights still on at my house when I finally pulled into the driveway.
The rain fell late into the night, occasionally driven like nails drumming on the steel roof. I found out the highest wind gusts were over 40 miles per hour here, and may have even hit fifty. However, the strong frame of the house barely shook. Some time over night the rain turned into sleet, then snow, and I woke to an inch or two covering the ground, and still coming down. When I looked out at the rain gauge in the morning I could tell there was already more than two inches of rain.
By the time the rain stopped Wednesday afternoon, there was five inches in the rain gauge. I found out on the National Weather Service Web site that Askov, the town where the spruce fell, had the highest total precipitation for the storm, at 4.94 inches.
The Kettle River and all the local creeks were swollen like I'd never seen them before. Not even in the spring has the water ever been this high on Sand Creek since I've lived here. This photo, a mile upstream from my house was taken yesterday, after the water had gone down a bit.
The water was so high the three 3-foot culverts under the road were completely submerged. The flow created vortexes like this one on the upstream side at each culvert. One dead end road to the east of my house was completely under water.
The good news is, we did not lose any of our large white pines in the wind, and the house is still high and dry. A cyclone in Minnesota...What will they think of next?