MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every year, Minnesota assistant state climatologist Peter Boulay puts together a list of the top weather events in Minnesota.
The list will be narrowed down to five, so we need your help. Check out the list below and make sure to vote for your top weather event in the poll!
Minnesota’s Top Weather Events Of 2020
1. Gloomy January:
January is typically the month of clear and cold conditions, under Arctic high pressure, but not in 2020! The cloudiest January in 57 years of records (at the U of M) was punctuated by a streak of 10 consecutively cloudy days. Solar radiation for the month, measured in average Langleys per day, was 27% below the average and about 10% less than the next-lowest January (in 1998).
2. Early April Snow and Ice Storm:
This meteorological April Fools’ prank on Minnesota began with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, and ended with howling winds and 80 Minnesota counties under warnings and advisories for winter weather. Rain changed to freezing rain and sleet, with significant ice accumulations over much of central and western Minnesota, and a glaze eventually coating surfaces in eastern and southern parts of the state. Meanwhile, heavy snow fell in far northwestern Minnesota, with up to 16 inches measured near Roseau.
3. Easter Sunday Winter Storm, April 12, 2020
For the third year in a row, mid-April brought a major winter weather event to southern Minnesota. Although not as potent as the storms in 2018 and 2019, this one did produce accumulations of up to 10 inches, including 6.6 inches In the Twin Cities. In southern Minnesota, mid-April snows exceeding four inches generally only occur 5-10% of the time, or every 10-20 years on average. This marked the first time on record (back to the 1870s) that the Twin Cities had experienced such a storm in three consecutive Aprils.
4. Minnesota’s First Known Direct Encounter with a Tropical Cyclone:
Tropical Storm Cristobal moved northward out of the Gulf of Mexico, and maintained Tropical Depression status as it pulled into the Upper Midwest, producing heavy rains and even some landslides in southeastern Minnesota. The rains came without lightning or thunder, and in true tropical fashion, the rain did not cool the air appreciably.
5. Widespread Intense Rains, June 28-29:
The first of three storms to produce at least isolated rainfall amounts in excess of 8 inches, this spiraling and then regenerating mass of heavy thunderstorms produced intense rains from near Mankato through the southeastern Twin Cities, and along the upper stretches of the Minnesota River. Widespread 2-4” totals were reported, with pockets of 4-7 inch totals, and over 8 inches reported near Judson and Winthrop.
6. Central Minnesota Extreme Rains, June 29-30:
A concentrated band of intense, training thunderstorms produced a narrow corridor of very high rainfall totals, including 8.76 inches in 24 hours at Little Falls. Fortunately, the storms had a relatively small footprint, which limited the magnitude and geographical extent of the impacts.
7. Violent, Deadly Tornado, July 8:
Minnesota’s apparent drought of major tornadoes ended tragically, as a photogenic but devastating vortex ripped through Otter Tail County, killing a 30-year-old man. The tornado was rated EF-4, corresponding to winds estimated in excess of 165 mph. No tornado in Minnesota had been rated EF-3 or higher since an EF-4 struck Wilkin County on August 7, 2010. Spanning nearly ten years, this was been the longest period without a major tornado in state, dating back to the 1870s.
8. Hail Storms Damage Crops, July 11:
Severe thunderstorms produced strong winds, along with swaths of golf ball to tennis ball-sized hail across western, central, and southwestern Minnesota—basically from Pope County into Jackson County. The large hail damaged some sugarbeet crops, along with corn, and soybeans.
9. Southern Minnesota “Mega-Rain,” July 25-26:
The biggest rain of the year in the state and produced over 1000 square miles of 6-inch totals, with the highest values making it to double-digits. The heaviest rains centered on and near the Minnesota River, from southeastern Renville County through the Mankato area. The Winthrop area in Sibley County was hardest-hit again, with rainfall reports as high as 11.50 inches. Most rains of this magnitude produce landslides, wash out roads, and damage public and private property, but fortunately, this one came when river levels had been relatively low, and when area soils had been in good condition after a mostly “normal” summer.
10. Metro Area Hail Storms, August 9-10:
Multiple, long-lasting, large hail-producing thunderstorms bombarded the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and neighboring counties during the evening and overnight hours. Ping pong ball to goll ball-sized hail hit parts of Carver, Dakota, Scott, Hennepin and Wright Counties—in some case multiple times—with hail the size of tennis balls reported at times. The storms dropped 5.53 inches of rain at Chanhassen, and produced 50-60 mph winds across the southern Twin Cities.
11. Tornadoes, Wind Damage, and Flooding, August 14:
An outbreak of severe thunderstorms produced eleven confirmed tornadoes, including near Spicer, Brownton, Glencoe, and Crystal, as well as in Aitkin County. Thunderstorm winds reached 64 mph at the Twin Cities International Airport, and Grand Rapids reported flooding, as storm totals exceeded six inches.
12. Smoky Skies: September 13-15:
Smoke from the wildfires over California, Oregon and Washington spread over Minnesota and was thickest from the September 13th to 15th, keeping high temperatures a few to several degrees below forecast values on the 15th.
13. Windy October 11-16:
Historical comparisons for winds are difficult, but this stretch appears to be among the most prolonged and persistently windy periods documented in Minnesota. In the Twin Cities, winds gusted to at least 40 mph on six straight days, with a gust of 51 mph recorded on October 14th.
14. Record October Snowstorm, October 20:
With 7.9 inches of snow in the Twin Cities, 7.0 inches at St. Cloud, and a large swath of 6-9 inches stretching across the state, this was the heaviest snow on record so early in the season throughout much of central and southern Minnesota. The heavy, wet snow plastered all surfaces, compacting into thick sheets of ice on area roads, and knocking out power in the eastern Twin Cities area.
15. Winter Storm, October 22:
Why stop at one major October storm when you can have two? This second storm in just three days produced a barrage of thunder, rain, and sleet over southern Minnesota, with heavy snows piling up to 6-10 inches across central Minnesota and parts of northern Minnesota.
16. Cold and Record Snowfall for October:
After a run above-average warmth earlier in the month, October 16-31 was the coldest on record in Rochester and International Falls, and the 2nd coldest on record at Duluth, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities. Despite the warm start, October finished as 5th coolest on record for the state. The cold air paved the way for a persistently snowy period, leading to October records for monthly snowfall at St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.
17. Sharp Turn Towards Historic Warmth, November 3-9:
Not only was the November warm spell record-setting and record-shattering in many regards; it also represents one of Minnesota’s greatest warm-ups. Temperatures had been as low as 2 F at Lamberton and Brimson on October 27th, and had risen into the 70s and even the 80s by November 4th. This warm spell tied Minnesota’s all-time record high for November with an 84 F reading at Granite Falls, and produced more 70 and 80-degree highs than any other November on record.
UPDATE: The results of the Minnesota DNR poll have been released. You can check out the top five and honorable mentions by clicking here.
RELATED: Top 5 Weather Events Of 2019