Minnesota storms could produce state’s first December tornado

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Dec. 15 (UPI) — Severe thunderstorms are expected in Minnesota Wednesday and could produce record-setting temperatures and possibly its first December tornado, forecasters said.

Temperatures were expected to be above average, in the low 50s in the Minneapolis area while about half the state will be under a high wind warning.

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“Today’s volatile day of weather has not been seen before in mid-December,” the National Weather Service in Minneapolis said Wednesday. “An unprecedented outbreak of severe thunderstorms for this time of year is likely early this evening.”

The first unusual aspect of the storm will be the speed that it will travel through the state, moving from 60 mph to 70 mph.

“The line of thunderstorms will race northeast across southern and eastern Minnesota into Wisconsin,” said the weather service, where gusts are expected to reach hurricane strength. “Widespread wind damage from gusts possibly exceeding 80 mph will accompany the storms.”

Forecasters said the unusually high temperatures and wind will make conditions ripe for tornadoes. The weather service urged residents to take advanced precautions because of the storm’s speed in darkness.

“The highest risk of severe thunderstorms is southeast of a line from Redwood Falls to Rush City,” the weather service said. “Conditions will deteriorate very quickly. Unless preparations are made ahead of time, it may be hard to take adequate shelter when one notices storms beginning to approach.

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“These are expected to be high end damaging wind producers, so pay close attention to warnings issued later today.”

The service said strong winds will develop behind a cold front Wednesday night. Forecasters said temperatures will then plummet overnight, possibly resulting in a flash freeze.

“Some accumulating snow is also possible across western Minnesota,” the weather service said.