Good Question: Why All The Record-Breaking Weather?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

— Record snow, record heat, record tornadoes and record low barometric pressure. It’s obvious that 2010 has been an active weather year. So, is there a reason we’re breaking all those records?

You might expect La Nina or El Nino to be blamed, but that’s not how Assistant State Climatologist Pete Boulay explained the records.

“It’s kind of a fluke,” said Boulay. “I haven’t found a link.”

The year of 2010 brought a record number of tornadoes, with a total of 104 (48 on just one day!). In September, there was a record flood stage on the Minnesota River. Seventeen inches of snow is the record for one snowfall in December in the Twin Cities.

“To have that many in one year is unusual,” conceded Boulay, but, “extremes happen every year.”

Part of the reason is the sheer number of records being kept today.

“There are thousands,” he said. Plus, the geographical size of the state, “It’s a big state, so somewhere in the state will have an extreme,” he noted.

Sometimes, we see opposite extremes in the same year. In 1936, January brought a record low of -34 degrees, which has never been broken. In July, of that same year, the Twin Cities burned with record heat, 108 degrees. Drought conditions helped cause the extreme swing, explained Boulay.

And despite today’s media obsession with weather records, the media in the late 1800’s was equally obsessed. The state climatology office’s record books contains clippings from an 1888 Minneapolis Times article, which starts “It’s a new record established in weather annals.”

According to Boulay, more measurements and better technology leads to some new records, especially when we’re looking at tornadoes.

“We do have better ways to detect tornadoes and better spotters,” he said.

But there’s no one reason tying together the tornadoes, floods, and snow.

“That’s what Minnesota is. The center of the continent, we’re the land of extremes,” he said.

WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha Reports

More from Jason DeRusha
  • I Wonder If...

    Do you even know what Global warming is?…. You should educate your self before posting such a foolish comment…

  • Chuck Grimsrud

    I would like to suggest that you consult another source on the weather topic.
    How about a U of MN professor?
    I assume the person at the state that you you talked to was appointed by the current conservative governor and reflects right wing views of climate change.

    • Rob

      Boulay was scientific enough not to extrapolate global trends based on local data. Sure, global warming would result in more energy in the global system, and probably record-breaking events all over the world. Please note that Minnesota is not the whole world. I realize that will be a shock to many.

    • Erin

      Pete Boulay actually works at the U of M…

  • mark from

    Global warming, theory at best

  • Tim Niles

    Take politics out of the global warming issue… THEN make a statement.

    • I Wonder If...

      Agree.. It funny how some thing that science has a political agenda…

  • Reagan

    First, I wonder if, learn how to write. The only thing global warming is, is a political agenda. I don’t know what else you lefties need to be convinced. scientists admit they made up information about global warming and your still in denial. PSYCOPATHS

  • Dave W

    For your information, global warming is real. So is global cooling. It is a normal part of our Earth’s cyclical climatology. The Earth heats up, then it freezes. It heats up quicker and quicker the closer we get to another ice age. So, you can expect another ice age (although this one might be a “mini”) in the next 10,000 years. Given that, there is no proof that humans using fossil fuel creating a green-house effect has sped this cycle up at all. For accurate records, we would need to wait for the next ice age, and I for one do not believe I will live for another 10,000 years.

    Merry Christmas! (note: not happy holidays or some other crap).

  • Ignorance must be bliss

    Dumbest argument EVER. I think people like to just fight about stupid things. Unless anyone can prove that global warming is real or not you all are going to just yell at each other till you are blue in the face. By the way, for the people who say “scientists have said that this real or not” is just as basic as saying “4 out of 5 dentists recommend this toothpaste”. 37% of the time statistics are made up on the spot and 74% of them are still wrong 100% of the time. What good is it fighting about something that nobody can prove? Just think about it.

  • carla

    @ Ignorance. Take a stastistics clsss

  • Lynne

    Question. With all this hot weather, why did we get hail with the storm that came through at lunch time today?

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