Saint Cloud Tornado Washington Signal Service Response

Predictions Made Concerning It by the Signal Service Bureau.

Special to the Globe.
WASHINGTON, April 28. – The recent tornado in Minnesota was predicted roughly by the signal office bureau, but no announcement made of the fact.  It is the rule of the bureau, it seems, not to predict cyclones.  From their nature it is impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy where they are likely to strike.  The weather reports received from over a wide area of country show where different temperatures are likely to produce a disturbance in air masses and originate dangerous storms, but it is impossible to say where these storms will strike when they have developed into cyclones.  It is vaguely believed by the most advanced students of the weather, that the terrific force of a tornado is not due to air in motion but to electricity.  All the phenomenon of such a cyclone as that at St. Cloud point to a greater force than it is possible to conceive existing in the air alone.  Two separate predictions were made in the signal office.  On the morning of the 14th of April, the day of the tornado, Lieut. Finley, who has charge of the storm division, predicted cyclones in eastern Dakota and northern Iowa.  Other observations predicted cyclones in Kansas and Iowa.  It seems


in Kansas and Iowa, and the eastern Dakota prediction may easily be regarded as applicable to the Minnesota storm.  The signal service bureau has given a great deal of attention to tornadoes during the past few years and is very anxious to obtain an accurate and scientific description of a tornado.  There are a number of volunteers in the office who would gladly go through the horrors of such a storm as that at St. Cloud if they could only know of its coming and be on hand with an aneroid barometer.  The theory of most meteorologists is that there is a very heavy pressure of the atmosphere during the storm, and that the barometer would go quite low.  The most advanced thinkers on the subject believe that exactly the reverse is true, and that the barometer would show that much of the damage that is done in the center of the storm is because of very light pressure.  Some buildings have been known to almost shake from the force of the air within, showing that there must have been a very considerable vacuum outside the building.

The St. Paul Daily Globe
Thursday Morning, April 29, 1886
Volume VIII, Number 119, Page 1


Special to the Globe.
WASHINGTON, May 26. – The signal office has been making a special study of the facts reported from the great tornadoes of April 14, by which the cities of St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids, Minn., were nearly destroyed.  The farthest westerly appearance of the storm was at Jamestown, Dak.  The total path of the storm was thirty-five miles long, and in its course it killed eighty people and destroyed over $200,000 worth of property.

The belief of the signal service is that a tornado is the extreme development of a thunder storm, accompanied by intense electrical manifestations and a sudden increase in pressure and of wind blowing suddenly and powerfully from the direction of the tornado.  It is believed that these tornadoes are the result of peculiar electrical conditions in the upper air.  The signal bureau has from time to time recommended that there would be great saving of life if people would take reasonable precautions.  A town with a forest immediately south and west of it has pretty fair protection from destruction.  All towns during the tornado season could establish a lookout at the distance of a mile to the southwest and give warning on the church bells.  Tornado cellars are a device which are open to everybody and a great many lives have been saved by them.

The Saint Paul Daily Globe
Thursday Morning, May 27, 1886
Volume VIII, Number 147, Page 3

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