Here are the results of voting for the top five weather events of 2023 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Votes were cast from various weather enthusiasts including the National Weather Service, the University of Minnesota, State agencies and Facebook followers. Please visit us on Facebook and post your own top five weather events for Minnesota.
The New Year greeted Minnesota with a large, messy winter storm, as a concoction of heavy snow, freezing rain, sleet, rain, and thunderstorms pounded parts of the state. The storm produced widespread accumulations of over one foot, with 15.1 inches for a storm total in the Twin Cities, making this the 14th-largest snowstorm on record since 1884.
For the third year in a row, significant drought conditions developed again in Minnesota during 2023. Interestingly, this series of annual droughts ebb and flow, with different parts of the state being the epicenter of the drought. 2023 was no exception.
Smoke from wildfires affected Minnesota again in the spring and summer of 2023. On May 18, a Canadian cold front ushered in a mass of thick smoke that caused air to be in the “unhealthy” category. This event was eclipsed by the June 14 event that placed Minnesota in the most unhealthy air quality in the country. The average Air Quality Index (AQI) for June 14 for the Twin Cities was 175, which is the highest daily average measure recorded in the Twin Cities since Air Quality Index records began in 1980.
A pattern of persistent storminess from December 2022 through February 2023 brought record precipitation to parts of Minnesota. Rochester had its wettest Meteorological Winter on record, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities had their second wettest winter, and Duluth had its third wettest winter on record. Looking at the entire winter from October to April, the Twin Cities had its 3rd snowiest winter on record with 90.3 inches and Duluth had its snowiest winter since records began at the Airport with a whopping 140.1 inches, over eleven feet of snow.
After Halloween, winter weather has been pretty much MIA in Minnesota for the rest of 2023. The final tally will not be known until New Year's Eve, but 2023 appears to be rivalling the champion of warm Decembers: 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. A strong El Nino and the lack of snow cover has boosted average temperatures about ten degrees above normal for December through the 22nd. Just like in 1877, residents were peering to the skies waiting for the “other shoe to drop."
(Honorable Mention) Happy Hour Hail! August 11, 2023:
The most significantly damaging thunderstorms of 2023 developed over central, eastern, and southern Minnesota on Friday August 11, producing heavy hail and strong winds, and striking the Twin Cities right as people were leaving work for the weekend. The storms battered homes and cars over much of the Twin Cities area and other parts of central Minnesota, ringing up a staggering damage toll that by November 2023 had exceeded $2 billion.