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July 1987: Twin Cities Superstorm

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July 1987: Twin Cities Superstorm

Minnesotans are no strangers to adverse weather conditions. The average January low temperature in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is just 7° F, and the area gets about 50 inches of snow each year. So summertime is usually a season of respite for these hearty northerners.

During the hot summer of 1987, though, more than a few residents of the Twin Cities were likely thinking fondly of winter, pining for a time when a little snow was their biggest worry. On July 23rd and 24th of that year, a record 11 inches of rain fell in some areas over a single eight hour period, resulting in a dramatic flash flood that put much of the area underwater. Damage from the storm was extensive, with thousands of flooded homes and businesses, ruptured storm sewers throughout the two cities, and countless cars stranded and abandoned on streets and highways that were washed out or inundated with floodwater.

Known to locals as the “Superstorm,” the flash flood has been voted the eighth most significant weather event in the state of Minnesota during the 20th century in an informal poll conducted by the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

The impact of the storm was likely worsened because the ground was already saturated. Just three days before the Superstorm, on July 20th and 21st, 9 inches of rain fell in portions of the area. Together, these two monster storms contributed to the Twin Cities’ wettest summer on record, with 23.52 inches of rain from June through August, with most of that falling in late July.

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In addition to the flooding, a tornado touched down during the storm at about 7 p.m. near Goose Lake in the northwestern corner of the Twin Cities before ripping through nearby suburb.

In the end, the storm left more than 9,000 homes flooded, caused $27 million in damage, and claimed two lives.

Here’s a look back at some of the local news coverage from that devastating week in the summer of 1987.

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1 Michael Amato { 07.25.13 at 4:08 pm }

Two super storms in three days means flooding had to be inevitable. I’m sure flood warnings were issued but government & business’ opened as usual. The NWS issues watches, warnings & advisories all the time but schools, business’ & government simply ignore them, so my question to the NWS is why bother?

2 Pat McC { 07.24.13 at 4:43 pm }

Jamie: It’s time to compliment you on such consistently well written articles.
I look forward to each “edition” of the Farmer’s Almanac and I am very grateful for the fact
that it is free. As a disabled Senior Citizen, money is really, really tight and this gives me
a perspective too, that all the skills I learned from my Father and two great Depression
era Grandmothers who scrimped and saved to feed their families are available to another generation. JOB WELL DONE!

3 Samuel { 07.24.13 at 2:26 pm }

Truly amazing!

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