EXCELSIOR, Minn. -- For the past 27 years, the date July 18th gives Meteorologist Paul Douglas pause. He will never forget that hot and hazy day, back in 1986, when he was on the set at KARE describing a tornado in its entirety, live, as it hovered over a nature area in Brooklyn Park.
"We couldn't believe what we were seeing. Being able to see a tornado on the ground live has a powerful effect," he explained from the studios of WeatherNation. The footage has been reviewed and used as a teaching tool in hundreds of universities ever since.
A KARE 11 crew fed the event live from Sky 11 on that date; strangely, the F2 twister stood still as it turned above the North Metro. Douglas says it presented proof to the Twin Cities that these twisters are real, and they don't just target rural areas. He says it gives experts another opportunity to ask a crucial question. "The compelling question is what, ultimately, will get you to the basement?" he wondered aloud.
The nationally known expert does admit that he understands why many people have been hesitant to heed the warnings. "People are understandably skeptical because 70% of tornado warnings are false alarms and that breeds this sense of apathy and complacency," Douglas explained.
As we all know, the other 30% of tornado warnings can lead to events with devastating, and sometimes, deadly results. Douglas says here in the metro area, we've had a relatively smooth summer weather-wise so far. But, he says, don't become complacent.
"Usually the tornado season peaks in May and June in Minnesota but everything has been delayed by at least one or two months. We're kind of limping into summer and so I have a hunch that we are going to be tracking severe storms much of the summer," he concluded.