I watched a 'Minnesota Experience' episode on PBS last night focusing Minnesota's worst tornadoes and floods. I had no idea the deadliest tornado in state history hit hard right here in the St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids area.

It was late afternoon on April 14th, 1886 -- and 77 Minnesotans lost their lives in what is still the deadliest tornado in Minnesota history.

The F4 tornado is believed to have started in Saint Cloud, before moving across the Mississippi River and almost completely wiping out Sauk Rapids. After that it took aim at Rice. There were reports that when the twister crossed the river it temporarily sucked all the water from the riverbed.

Records show that 20 people were killed in Saint Cloud, and another 38 died in Sauk Rapids -- with hundreds more injured.

Historians on the show said that before the storm, Sauk Rapids was poised to be the biggest city in Central Minnesota -- but after the tornado wiped out Sauk Rapids, Saint Cloud assumed that role.

The tornado was one of four that stuck Central Minnesota that afternoon, and was part of a larger outbreak that day that included Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.

Just another reminder to be 'severe weather aware' this summer. You can find tornado safety information from the National Weather Service HERE.

Pete Hanson is on 98.1 Minnesota's New Country weekday mornings from 5:30 to 10:00.

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