Top Five Weather Events of 2015 in Minnesota

Here are the results of voting for the top five weather events of 2015 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Please visit us on Facebook and post your own top five weather events for Minnesota. Looking back over the past year there have been a few weather events that stand out against the rest. From the second warmest autumn statewide, to smoke-filled skies in July, this year's candidate events offer the variety of weather Minnesotans are accustomed to.

#5 Smoky Skies: July 6, 2015

One of the more bizarre candidates originated from Canada in the form of smoke. There were smoky skies at various times in the summer of 2015, with the thickest smoke observed on July 6, 2015. Visibilities were reduced to a mile and a quarter in St. Cloud and two-and-a-half miles in the Twin Cities. The scent of smoke was in the air and a pall hung over the metro. All courtesy of a cold front bringing smoke from fires in Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba over 1,000 miles away.

#4 Straight Line Winds Wreak Havoc in the Brainerd Lakes Area: July 12, 2015

The most damaging severe storm event of the year came in the form of a line of severe thunderstorms that brought winds from 70 to 95 mph in an area just south of Wadena eastward to the Pillsbury State Forest where winds were in excess of 100mph in places. Significant damage was done to resorts on Gull and North Long Lake as well as the grandstand at the Brainerd International Raceway.

#3 The Non-Winter of 2015-2016 (so far)

If December were to end on the 28th, it would be the second warmest December in the Twin Cities at 31.4 degrees. Temperatures have also failed to drop to or below the zero mark in the Twin Cities. As a result there has been a delay in ice freeze-up on lakes and will likely be the second latest freeze up at Lake Waconia (1940-2014) and the third latest freeze up at Medicine Lake. (1955-2014) Open water was still being observed on Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake on the 27th, and many other lakes across the state are approaching their latest ice freeze-up dates.

#2 The Glorious Summer of 2015

Sometimes the weather just brings pleasant conditions, which is what happened for a good part of the summer of 2015. There was a dearth of 90 degree temperatures (only four compared to the average of 13). Prolonged dew point episodes were more or less kept in check, and days were pleasant enough to have the summer of 2015 finish the third glorious on record.

#1 2nd Warmest Autumn Statewide

2015 was the second warmest September-November in Minnesota back to 1895. Average statewide temperature was 49.5 degrees or 6.3 degrees above normal. It fell just short of the autumn of 1963 which was 49.7 degrees or 6.5 degrees above normal. (Note: September-November 2016 tied the warmest Autumn with 49.7 degrees)


Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention #1

Thundersleet Storm of December 16, 2015

A thunderstorm brought a sampling of all precipitation types over the course of an hour on the morning of December 16, 2015. Here was the minute-by-minute breakdown as observed at the State Climatology Office ...9:10am... Thunder and lightning with gusty winds and rain. ...9:18am... Ice pellets, hail to .4 inch in size along with sharp lightning. ...9:20am... Changing over to wet snow. ...9:30am... Heavy clumps of snow falling. ...9:55am... Storm is over.

Honorable Mention #2

Potent 11/11 storm of November 11, 2015

With vestiges of fall lingering long into the brink of winter, a mammoth storm brought record-setting rains across Minnesota. The Twin Cities saw 1.73 inches on November 11th and was the 5th largest daily value for a single day in November going back to 1871.

Honorable Mention #3 (tie)

Sixteen tornadoes in one day: May 16th

Nearly half the tornadoes reported in 2015 happened on one day. Sixteen tornadoes touched down in six counties in central Minnesota. Fourteen were ranked F0, two were F1 and none had a path length of more than five miles. This event might be better remembered for the heavy rains that eased the drought situation with a large swath of the state receiving badly needed rainfall.

Honorable Mention #3 (tie)

It may be hard to imagine now, but in spring 2015 there was a sizable drought in the state. The peak was on May 5 with 94% of the state included in moderate drought and 40% of the state under a severe drought. By My 19th, the severe drought was erased by rains and moderate drought had disappeared by the second week of June.

Honorable Mention #5

Blowing and Drifting Snow: January 8th

The cold snap of January 5-8th brought extremely high barometric pressure readings across Minnesota. The highest barometric readings were found across southwest Minnesota, at 31.00 inches. This is fairly close to the record of 31.17 inches at International Falls. Behind the high pressure came an intense Alberta Clipper. While snowfall amounts were light, high winds caused blowing snow even in the heart of the Twin Cities. Blizzard conditions were observed in Outstate Minnesota.

Honorable Mention #6

Seven Days in a Row of Reaching a Dew Point Temperature of 70 degrees: August 31st to September 6th

Even a Glorious Summer such as 2015 has some rough patches and this one came in the form of a late surge of summer. Each day from August 31 to September 6 had at least one hour reaching a dew point temperature of 70 degrees or above, perfectly timed for the State Fair. While far from the record of 19 straight days, the seven days in a row was the longest stretch of seven days so late into a season..

Honorable Mention #7

Large Hail in Northwest Minnesota: August 12th

Hail up to softball-sized fell with this storm in Roseau County. The hail, along with strong winds, caused damage in northwest Minnesota. Several grain bins sustained damage in Pennington County with large round hay bales being blown across a field.

Last modified: December 29, 2015
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