National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

It's time to take a look back at the top weather events impacting the Northland in 2020 as voted on by our meteorologists! Enjoy this look back at some of the most memorable weather events of the year. If you're looking for more, be sure to check out the Top Five Weather Events of 2020 in Minnesota from our friends at the Minnesota Climatology Office and the Top Ten Wisconsin Weather Events of 2020 from the NWS offices covering Wisconsin.


10. Severe Weather - Two confirmed overnight tornadoes - July 17-18, 2020

Part of a two-round episode of severe weather, a rare Moderate risk for severe weather existed during the day due to a possible Derecho developing, but conditions did not materialize as expected during the daytime hours. However, late Friday night into the early morning hours of July 18, a strong a line of storms with a number of weak areas of rotation prompted forecasters to issue a handful of Tornado Warnings, with two storms confirmed to have produced weak tornadoes and other sporadic wind damage reported. For more details, read about the EF-1 Tornado near Blueberry in Douglas County and the EF-1 Tornado near Sandborn in Ashland County. To view all warnings and storm reports from this event, visit the IEM Local Storm Report site.

9. Severe Weather - Widespread wind damage across the I-35 corridor - August 14, 2020

A strong cold front pushed across Minnesota the evening of the 14th and led to the development of a line of storms ahead of the front. As the storms pushed across northeastern Minnesota, they produced all modes of severe weather. Heavy rainfall led to areas of flash flooding, mainly along the western Iron Range. The bulk of the severe reports consisted of damaging wind gusts that brought down numerous trees, leading to damage at homes and other buildings. Additionally, a few brief, weak tornadoes were embedded in a section of the line that surged out over Aitkin and Carlton counties. These tornadoes produced further damage to trees and properties, mainly embedded within larger areas of wind damage. More information about the EF-0 Tornado near Automba in Carlton County, the EF-1 Tornado near Moose Lake (2.7 miles long) in Carlton County, and the EF-1 tornado near Lawler in Aitkin CountyTo view all warnings and storm reports from this event, visit the IEM Local Storm Report site.

8. Remnants of Cristobal - June 9-10, 2020

Rarely does the Northland see the remnants of a tropical storm, but in June post-tropical cyclone Cristobal (formerly a Tropical Storm that made landfall in Louisiana) caused a period of heavy rain and windy conditions across much of Wisconsin. The Town of Knox in Price County reported flooding and several road/shoulder washouts and culvert displacements causing an estimated $50k in damage. More details about this flood damageView a radar loop of Cristobal's remains across northwest Wisconsin. The MN Climatology Office also has a great page about this event

7. First Snow Squall Warning for Minnesota and Wisconsin - April 9, 2020

A new type of warning, the Snow Squall Warning, was issued for the first time in both Minnesota and Wisconsin in the morning commute hours of April 9, 2020. Twin Ports residents were alerted of this new alert on their smartphones through a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). (Learn more about WEA and NWS products!)


6. Severe Weather - Largest Hail of the Summer - July 18, 2020

An area of low pressure and a cold front moved across the Northland on the afternoon and evening of the 18th. Ahead of the cold front, dew points surged into the 70s and, coupled with the cold front, led to the development of a few impressive supercell thunderstorms that moved across the region. The storms developed over north-central Minnesota during the afternoon and pushed eastward through northwest Wisconsin during the evening hours producing damaging winds and large hail as they pushed across the area. This event had the largest hail of the summer with 3.0" hail stones reported near Shaw, MN and also produce significant thunderstorm winds (straight line winds) across northern Bayfield County To view all warnings and storm reports from this event, visit the IEM Local Storm Report site.

5. Record early November Warmth 

After an unseasonably snowy October, nature balanced things out with incredible record warmth in early November, setting monthly records at most of our official weather stations in the Northland! (Our friends at the MN Climatology Office ranked this event their #1 for Minnesota!) This graphic summarizes the numerous records broken:


4. Rare record early-season snowfall in late October - October 20, 2020

Winter arrived early across the Upper Midwest with a series of storms bringing accumulating snowfall to the Northland - a total of 12" of snowfall for the month of October at our office in Duluth! The storm on October 20 was particularly impressive across Minnesota - check out the MN Climatology Office's summary of the event


3. Severe Weather - Over 10 hours of warnings through multiple rounds of severe storms - July 8-9, 2020

A very long period of severe weather with over 10 hours of some type of warning being in effect between the first Severe Thunderstorm Warning being issued at 6:53pm in the evening and the last Special Marine Warning being cancelled the next morning at 5:28am, with a total of 47 warnings issued by our office - 4 Tornado, 24 Severe Thunderstorm, 7 Special Marine, and 2 Flash Flood Warnings. Check out the busy map of all warnings issued and severe weather reports for this event. 

2. Drought/Dry Weather Across the Northland - Spring/Summer/Fall 2020

While we went into last winter very wet, the spring, summer, and fall months proved to be dry for some parts of the Northland, including Duluth where drought conditions were observed for much of the summer and fall. Duluth is ending the calendar year nearly 10" short of the usual amount of precipitation - around 30% below normal. For more information about the current drought, visit the Drought Monitor

Drought 2020

1. Late December Winter Storm/Blizzard - December 23-24, 2020

A late-comer to the list but a storm worthy of the number one sport, an impressive winter storm and blizzard impacted the Northland on December 23-24, 2020! Visit our storm summary web page for all the details about this storm.