October 21 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 19-Oct @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

Activation From Dave KCUVY
We had a rather bizarre and complicated storm system move through the area on Wednesday 15-Sep. Earlier in the day it had produced 1" to 1.5" hail further to the west. As the system approached Steele County it appeared to be collapsing. Instead it suddenly intensified and produced several areas of intense wind resulting in localized damaged. By coincidence, it toppled a 26" diameter tree almost on top of Dave and nearly missing Chris who happened to be driving past in the opposite direction. By the time we activated the storm was almost out of the county.

The Great Flood
September will long be remembered for the flooding across the region that resulted from a large amount of rain. SKYWARN, RACES/ARES, and CERT were called out to provide assistance across a wide array of needs. Flooding is very different than spotting severe storms. After the flash flooding is over, flood waters tend to move in very predictable places and at relatively slow speeds. But our people were available to assist in the response and recovery efforts even though some were dealing with water problems of their own. We have an incredible group of volunteers. Thank you to all that responded.

Below is a graphic from the MN Climotology Office indicating the rainfall and a chart of the readings at Bridge Street. As this Newsletter goes t opress, the water is level is still dropping. In June, the Bridge Street water level was being recorded as being approximately 1120 feet.

If you have any special pictures you would like to share, send them to SKYWARN. It would be appreciated if you could include a date and time when the pictures were taken. We'll assemble some of the pictures into a photo album in the Archive Section.

June Disaster Review
Several SKYWARN members were at the Community Center 15-Sep. CAER was met to debrief the 17-Jun tornado outbreak. Dave and Chris were late so Marv and Autumn spoke on SKYWARN's behalf. The purpose of the meeting was to share "lessons learned" so we all might improve our response the next time. Several organizations praised our coordination and the timeliness of our reports. SKYWARN was specifically credited with saving at least 12 lives as we provided the only notification that family received of the approaching tornado.

Downed Power Lines
One of the "lessons learned" from the Disaster Review came from Steele-Waseca Electric. Most of us are very aware to stay away from broken and fallen electrical lines. We have no way of knowing if the lines are still energized. Most may not be aware of the danger of lines that may be unbroken but sagging due to the heavy weight of a tree branch or other object. Electrical lines are typically made up of stranded wire. Stranded wire is made by gathering several smaller diameter wires (strands) together. This increases the flexibility of the wire.

Under load, some of the individual strands may break before others. As some strands break, the weight on the wires brings the remaining strands even closer to breaking. It is only a matter of time before the remaining strands could break due to the excessive load. The snapped wire may then move wildly as the tension in the wire is released.

Be sure to stay away from broken and sagging electrical wires.

Miles and Miles
SKYWARN volunteers routinely donate time and money to help protect the residents of Steele County. One of the tasks asked of SKYWARN volunteers was to monitor the flood gauges across the county, at least those that were not submerged. This involved several days of driving from Clinton Falls to Hope and several points in between for 4 days and nights. Over 900 miles were logged during that time by SKYWARN teams. Individuals may be able to deduct mileage from their Federal Income Tax as a charitable deduction. IRS Publication 526 provides guidance for deducting a charitable contribution. With respect to car expenses:

You can deduct un-reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, that are directly related to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization. You cannot deduct general repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, registration fees, or the costs of tires or insurance. If you do not want to deduct your actual expenses, you can use a standard mileage rate of 14 cents a mile to figure your contribution.
Other instances when mileage might be considered a deduction is when SKYWARN volunteers drive several miles across the county during storm spotting activation. We do not claim to be tax experts. Consult your own tax preparer for additional information on whether this may apply to you.

2011 MN Storm Chasing Convention The 2011 Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention will be held on Saturday,26-Feb, 2011 at the Holiday Inn at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, MN. Current Speakers include:
Tim Samaras of TWISTEX - keynote speaker
Jenna Blum - Author of THE STORM CHASERS
Michael Stanga of TheWxPage.Com and
Dean Baron of

Registration is LIMITED and includes a lunch buffet! Registration is a first come first serve basis so don't miss out on this opportunity! More speakers and an updated schedule including a video viewing session will be confirmed in the coming weeks and months. Head to TheWxPage.Com to Register.

Term For the Month From WeatherTalk
There has been a few sitings of a hot air balloon around Owatonna last month. An balloonist flying solo is referred to as a cloudhopper. Some people will claim a true cloudhopper is not piloting from a traditional basket. Balloons typically fly in the early morning and late afternoon, when the air is cool and (hopefully) the winds are calm.

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Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN