What a tornado outbreak looked like on Doppler radar…in 1965

May 6th, 1965 is a day that will live in weather infamy for long time Twin Cities residents.

On this date 50 years ago, a swarm of thunderstorms spawned a half-dozen tornadoes that danced across the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  6 tornadoes touched down that night, including a F4 that tore across the heavily populated cities of Minneapolis, Fridley and Mounds View. 13 people perished, another 683 were injured.

For the National Weather Service Twin Cities, it was one of their first exercises in issuing tornado warnings using Doppler radar. The above video shows you exactly what meteorologists were seeing as the twisters touched down that evening. Compare that to the Doppler radar image below of a tornadic storm near Oklahoma City 50 years later.


The 1965 radar images seem primitive, don’t they?

There is a common thread with the old WSR-57 Doppler radar technology and today’s NEXRAD imagery. In the video above, you can depict several hook echos from that night. This is a classic signature indicating a severe thunderstorm has rotation, thus the potential for producing a tornado. 50 years later, meteorologists like yours truly continue to look for that familiar hook echo.

Click here to read the outstanding recap of the 1965 Twin Cities tornado outbreak, compiled by the National Weather Service Twin Cities.


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