The North Dakota weather this past year has knocked the socks off those new to the area. Most newcomers have been warned about the long winters, dark days and blustery conditions, but rarely is it mentioned the beautiful, moderate temperatures and bright sunny days the North Dakota tempts citizens with during the summer months. Most of those stationed at Minot have lived elsewhere and experienced a wide range of temperatures and extreme weather conditions, but none quite seem to compare to what Minot has put transplants through this past year. First the once-in-a-lifetime Easter blizzard and now this stunning wide-skyed tornado warning that blew down trees and trampolines and had the entire base in awe.
Last Friday night, July 22nd, as dinner was ending and the promise of the nice summer weekend was upon us, the ominous shelf clouds started to surround the base. They were beautiful and captivating! Many of us took to the outdoors to gaze at the sky. Photos were snapped as the clouds became intoxicating with beauty! I myself had never seen anything like the super-cell shelf cloud that rotated slowly and created the most stunning visual sky image I had ever seen up close and in real life. Although a tornado was looming just north, all that could be seen was the beauty of the skies; until out of nowhere the rain and wind intensified and sent us inside. The wind gusts reportedly reached over 70 mph and we watched amazed as neighbors’ trash cans flew down the street, patio chairs went soaring and tree branches snapped. Minot is no stranger to strong winds and we are by now accustomed to the sounds of our houses rattling and having to live without delicate lawn furniture; however, this storm took us by surprise with even stronger and more threatening winds than yet witnessed. Trampolines, many of which have withstood the blizzards, succumbed to the winds and net support poles finally cracked in two. Out of those who managed to keep their outside play equipment in their yard- many went sailing or were destroyed- I’d be shocked to see if anyone has a functioning trampoline now. Thankfully the storm only lasted about 30 minutes or so and after power was restored and the immediate tornado danger had passed, the sky left us all a present.
Venturing outside around 9:30 pm to assess the damage and once again the base was blessed with the most stunning sky scene! It was almost as if mother nature gave both terror and beauty within a few minutes’ time. The rare mammatus clouds that formed over base immediately after the storm were breathtaking amongst the destruction. This type of cloud, learned from https://learnweather.com/basic-weather/mammatus-clouds-mk/ , is a pouch-like structure and an example of clouds in sinking air and are usually seen after the worst part of a thunderstorm has passed.
Reports from the town of Minot are that the clouds were seen in the distance and ominous winds were observed, but hardly any rain or destruction occurred only eight miles south of the base. Some families reported to be driving to base at the time and turned around to avoid the scary situation, others braved the visually intense storm to make it home only to find their playsets ruined and tree branches blocking the road. The Northern Sentry is not aware of any injuries throughout the storm and we count our lucky stars that the only damage was property damage and not lives lost in this terrifying yet prepossessing storm. According to an email sent out by Minot AFB Homes, damage to the base and housing is still being assessed. Housing asked that base residents making reports of damage please make sure and reference that it was caused during the storm on July 22nd. The beautiful skies captured in photos across base keep us remembering the beauty and danger of Mother Nature in North Dakota.