The two most widespread damaging wind events in the United States since at least 2004 have happened less than five months apart, both occurring in Minnesota and neighboring states.
There were at least 55 wind gusts of 75+ mph during Thursday's severe weather outbreak, which is the second most hurricane force wind gusts in a single day since at least 2004, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
The only day since at least 2004 with more hurricane force gusts was the unprecedented Dec. 15 outbreak that dropped more than 20 tornadoes in Minnesota while also producing an astonishing 64 hurricane force gusts in the region.
There were more hurricane force gusts in the aforementioned events than there were in the devastating Aug. 10-11 Iowa derecho that caused an estimated $11 billion in damages, and left towns without power for more than a week.
The number of these wind events occurring in the past few years is another sign of the increasingly extreme weather brought about by climate change.
While the Iowa derecho and Thursday's storms were closer to "typical" weather for this time of year – albeit still anomalous for how much heat and moisture the storm system had to work with for early May in the Upper Midwest – the mid-December tornado and wind outbreak was way beyond the standard deviation.
"While extracting the specific role of climate change in any one severe weather event is very difficult, some events are obvious. The Dec. 15 severe weather event, the first ever of its kind on record for Minnesota, is a very obvious climate signal," says Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.
"Storms that occur during the normal severe weather season are less apparent. Inevitably, in broader terms, our atmosphere is warmer and as a result dew points are higher. Warmer air holds more water. These two components are essential ingredients to instability and energy available for storms.
"We already know large scale storm events such as hurricanes have become more energized as a result of warmer temperatures and in Minnesota extreme rainfall events are increasing dramatically as a result of more water vapor in a warming atmosphere."
The December outbreak saw record temperatures (58 in Minneapolis, 69 in La Crosse) combined with record moisture content and an incredibly powerful low pressure system to spawn a tornado outbreak 10 days before Christmas, and in areas where five days earlier had seen 10-20 inches of snow fall.
You can read about the extensive damage Thursday's storms produced in Minnesota right here, in addition to the tragic situation in Kandiyohi County where a person was killed when a storm toppled a grain bin.