May 6, 1965 Twin Cities Tornado Outbreak

Discussion in '1960s and earlier' started by John Paulson, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. John Paulson

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    On May 6, 1965 the Twin Cities(Minneapolis-St. Paul) and suburbs were hit by many powerful tornadoes. Thirteen people were killed in these tornadoes but the death toll could have been much worse if not for the efforts of WCCO radio. Over five hours of WCCO radio coverage is available here at http://www.radiotapes.com/specialpostings.html. You need to go down to severe weather coverage. It is interesting to hear what they recalling the storms in those days. There is also a great page on the Channhassen Weather Service PAge regarding this outbreak.
     
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  2. John Paulson

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  3. Andy Wehrle

    Andy Wehrle Member

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    A radar image from that outbreak is on the Wikipedia page for "Weather Radar." This is actually how I found out about this event.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_radar

    A couple of quite ominous signatures there, especially toward the lower left. You know the storms are bad when the "supercell shape" shows up that clearly in the poor resolution of the time. Probably would have looked much like April 27th, 2011 over north-central Alabama (say, the Tuscaloosa and Cordova supercells running parallel, with the northern one in the lead) on modern radar.
     
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  4. Bob Schafer

    Bob Schafer Member

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    This event was just about the biggest reason that I chase. I lived there (Edina), was 7 years old, and sheltered in our basement (in the SW corner, of course!) during the tornadoes. Shortly thereafter Dad drove us around a nearby neighborhood left with concrete slabs, and my future was sealed.
     
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  5. Todd Krause

    Todd Krause Member

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  6. cErickson

    cErickson Noob

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    Great job Twin Cities NWS on the huge amount of info on this event!
     
  7. Todd Krause

    Todd Krause Member

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    Here are some updates of the event. Of the six tornadoes, four were rated F4, one was F3, and one was F2.

    Radar loop from the old WSR-57 at MSP Airport:
    Full length version:
    The range is mostly 50 nautical miles, but it occasionally drops down to 25 nmi or pops up to 125 nmi.
    The radar operator was manually adding attenuation so that's why we usually see some some definition to the echoes. We hope to get it cleaned up even more so the range doesn't jump around.

    Audio from WCCO-AM:
    entire event: http://www.radiotapes.com/specialpostings.html (see postings #1 through #9)
    highlights: http://www.radiotapes.com/WCCO/WCCO-AM_Tornado_5-6-1965-A.mp3
    and http://www.radiotapes.com/WCCO/WCCO-AM_Tornado_5-6-1965-B.mp3
    In those days, WCCO-AM had ratings about 68%, and even more people were surely listening during the event.

    Writeup by MPX:
    http://www.weather.gov/media/mpx/1965May6-50thAnniversary.pdf
    including an interview with the last remaining staff member who is alive.

    This event is still the main event by which MSP area tornadoes are judged.
    Todd
     
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  8. John Paulson

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it true that this was the 1st time civil defense sirens were used for severe weather and also wasn't WCCO credited for saving countless lives due to the coverage.
     
  9. Todd Krause

    Todd Krause Member

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    It was the first time sirens were used in Minnesota for severe weather, but I have heard that sirens were used for severe weather elsewhere in the country sometime prior to 1965. I don't, however, remember any specifics.
     
  10. John Paulson

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    I honestly would not know. I wasn't born till a few years(and a distance away) after this event but had heard about it.
     
  11. John Paulson

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    A gentleman has put all 9 parts of the air checks into one long video on youtube of the entire WCCO radio coverage from that night. It's almost 5 hours worth of coverage and quite a listen.

     
  12. John Paulson

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    Radiotapes.com has now added extensive coverage from WCCO radio on the day after the tornado event. As an aside there was severe weather that morning(May 7) and there was actually a Severe Thunderstorm Watch that morning valid till 1PM
     

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