Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

It’s hot as you know where in Minnesota July 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:18 AM
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I CANNOT RECALL ever watching fireworks from the car. But on the Fourth of July, my husband Randy and I sat in our air-conditioned car parked at a hilltop Faribault church and took in the patriotic display. It wasn’t only the oppressive heat and humidity which drove us into our vehicle, but also the mosquitoes.

It’s been a miserable week of weather here in Minnesota. But I don’t need to tell you that if you live here. You know.

The National Weather Service office in Chanhassen has issued an excessive heat warning for much of central and southern Minnesota numerous times during the past several days. One remains in effect until 7 p.m. tonight in southern Minnesota and west central Wisconsin with temps soaring into the 90s and a heat index of 102 – 112 degrees.

Here’s that warning defined, directly from the NWS website:


That word, “dangerous,” should be heeded.

I suspect Randy and I were feeling the effects of that heat on Tuesday when we took a day trip to Lake City. We were in and out of our air-conditioned van and Lake City businesses during the peak heat of the afternoon. I suffered an on-again-off-again headache.

Not until we were back home did Randy tell me he also had a headache and simply did not feel well. He didn’t drink nearly as much water as me and I suspect he was dehydrated and perhaps a bit overheated.

A crew patches a section of Brown County Road 29 just outside of New Ulm on Monday afternoon.

Now imagine if you were a road construction worker or a roofer or anyone else who toils in the outdoors. If we felt uncomfortable  just walking in and out of shops on a hot and humid afternoon, they must have felt 1,000 times more miserable.

Working as a flag man with the same crew under the hot afternoon sun had to be pretty darn hot.

That said, be safe and stay cool. We have one more day of this sultry, oppressive, can’t-breathe kind of day to get through until the heat and humidity levels drop.

How do you beat the heat and humidity?

Some members of my extended family beat the heat on Saturday by jumping/running/walking through a sprinkler.

Cooling off in a make-shift fire department swimming pool during a celebration in Belview.

The Belview Fire Department filled a temporary water reservoir for the kids to splash in during a tornado recovery celebration on a sultry July 1 at the city park in Belview in southwestern Minnesota.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


National Weather Service confirms July 1 tornadoes in southwestern Minnesota July 7, 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE confirms what many Minnesotans had already figured out. Several tornadoes touched down during a massive storm system that began near the South Dakota/Minnesota border late Friday afternoon, July 1, and swept as far east as northwestern Wisconsin.

In my home area of Redwood County, two tornadoes were confirmed—both in the northwestern section of the county.

According to the NWS Chanhassen office, an EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 95 – 105 mph began approximately six miles west of Vesta and continued for some 21 miles to the northeast. The maximum half-mile wide twister moved across Belview, which saw the most widespread tree damage in the surveyed area. The tornado then crossed the Minnesota River and ended two miles into eastern Renville County. Click here to read my previous post on the storm damage in Belview.


Trees blocked the street north of the Belview City Park following the tornado that passed through this Redwood County community of 375. Photo courtesy of Merlin and Iylene Kletscher.

The second EF-1 Redwood County tornado just nipped the northwestern corner of the county traveling a 2 ½-mile path. The tornado hit the farm of my cousin, Marilyn Schmidt, and her husband, Dan. To see the damage there, click on this post published yesterday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.


This tractor rigged with chains holds up a wall of a shop on Dan and Marilyn Schmidt's Wood Lake area farm. The building was severely damaged by Friday's twister. I'm showing this photo specifically for the reader who yesterday questioned how a tractor could hold up a wall. Photo courtesy of Heather Rokeh.

Three other tornadoes were confirmed in southwestern Minnesota—the most-damaging an EF-2 in Tyler with winds estimated at 115 mph. Check out the storm assessment of this 3-mile long tornado in Lincoln County near the South Dakota border by clicking here onto the NWS Sioux Falls website.

You’ll also find information there on an EF-1 twister that struck the Ruthton area in Pipestone County with wind speeds of 100 – 110 mph.

Strong winds, not a tornado, apparently caused the damage in my hometown of Vesta. The Chanhassen office of the NWS lists the storm there as “a series of downbursts” with wind speeds of 90 – 100 mph. Destruction in Vesta included dozens of downed trees, a roof partially-lifted from St. John’s Lutheran Church (my home church), smashed grain bins, damage to the elevator and more. To learn more about the damage in Vesta, read my previous blog post by clicking here or click here to read a story published in The Redwood Gazette.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Vesta with the roof half ripped off by strong winds during the Friday afternoon storm. Photo courtesy of Brian Kletscher.

The NWS also determined that an EF-1 tornado with wind speeds of 100 – 110 mph cut a 300-yard-wide, 2 1/2 –mile swath northeast of Danube, lifting much of the roof from at least one home.

Check out the two NWS websites for maps, photos and more detailed information on the storms and the resulting damage.

Also visit the Belview Blue Jays Facebook page, where you’ll find photos of storm damage and other information from Belview.

IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION and photos you would like to share of storm damage, please submit a comment and I will follow-up with an email to you.

Based on my blog readership yesterday and Tuesday, interest in the southwestern Minnesota storms remains high. Yesterday Minnesota Prairie Roots blog views totaled 1,129, my highest daily total since launching this blog. On an average day, I get around 400 views.