The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources DNR compiled votes from the Minnesota State Climatology Office for the Top Five Weather Events in 2021. Votes were cast form weather enthusiasts, University of Minnesota, State agencies, National Weather Service and facebook followers.

By a large margin the top weather event in 2021 was the severe weather and wind that occurred December 15-16, 2021. It was not only the size and strength of the system but also the time of the year that made it a "generational" or "career" event! It was a strong cyclone that brought very warm humid air into Minnesota. This resulted in severe weather we typically see in the summer. At this point twenty tornadoes have been confirmed with the strongest EF2 that hit Hartland in Freeborn County.

Damaging thunderstorm winds moved across several states and it did qualify as a derecho. The pressure gradient also produces non-thunderstorm winds that caused additional damage. The warm air pulled into Minnesota resulted in the fastest snow melt ever seen in the Twin Cities. Snow depth measured 12 inches on December 11 to zero just five days later on the 16th. I am thankful that my first experience with a derecho did not occur with crops in the field!

The number two weather event was the drought. For much of Minnesota it was the most severe drought in 10 to 30 years. However, in some areas it was the worst in 40 years. By the middle of August there was a swath in northwestern Minnesota through north-central Minnesota that was designated in Exceptional Drought or D4. In the 21 year history of the US Drought Monitor this is the first time any part of Minnesota had a D4 designation.

The number three weather story for 2021 was "the Summer of Smoke." There were forest fires in Canada and other parts of the United States that the jet stream moved into Minnesota. There were 25 different days in June and August that the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport reported smoke present. Then there was a significant "smoke outbreak" from July 28, 2021 through August 6, 2021 when the smoke was so thick visibility was reduced to a mile or less at ground level! I was wondering if the smoke would reduce solar radiation and maybe decrease crop yields? One agronomist speculated maybe it helped yields by lowering temperatures decreasing crop stress due to drought?

The fourth voted weather story was the "Cold Outbreak" in February. We were on our way to enjoy the top tenth warmest winter in history until the outbreak of cold weather in February. "The cold was noteworthy for how late in the season it was." We were at or below zero for a total of 116 hours which was the most since the winter of 1994. It was the third most hours of zero or colder dating back to 1905.

Finally the fifth Weather Story of 2021 was the "Heat Wave" in June. There have been many heat waves in Minnesota more severe then the one last summer. However, typically they are in July. This was noteworthy because it was in early June! "This was the longest and most severe heat wave to occur so early in the season. The Twin Cities recorded  temperatures of 90 degrees or higher nine days in a row! That was the third longest streak on record. I remember planting sweet corn the Saturday after Memorial Day weekend and it was 100 degrees. I noticed a small rock so I stopped, got out of the cab to go and pick it up. The rock laying on top of the black soil was so hot I almost needed a pair of gloves to pick it up!

So, there you have the Top Five weather Events of 2021 In Minnesota. Thank You to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Climatology Office for putting it together!

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