KSTP Year in Review: 2017's Top Weather Stories

A side-by-side display of the destruction Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused Photo: AP
A side-by-side display of the destruction Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused

December 29, 2017 10:15 PM

From tornadoes to bitter cold, there were many significant weather events in Minnesota and Wisconsin during the course of 2017. Here are the top five local weather stories in 2017:

1. Storm Aftermath: Coon Rapids Plowing Hail; 2 Injured after Pickup, Camper Flip in Meeker Co.


In June, Coon Rapids residents and public works employees worked tirelessly to shovel and plow hail that fell during a severe storm. The severe thunderstorms blew through St. Cloud to the metro area and western Wisconsin, producing hail, rains, strong winds and lightning. The Minnesota State Patrol reported two people were hurt when wind gusts flipped a pickup truck and camper in Meeker County. The storms caused power outages for more than 132,000 people.

2. Barron County Sheriff: 1 Dead, at Least 27 Injured Following Apparent Tornado

One person died and 27 people were hurt when a tornado blasted through Barron County, Wisconsin, in May. The tornado tore through the Prairie Lakes Estates mobile home park in Chetek, Wisconsin, causing significant damage. The National Weather Service reported damaging hail and flying debris were results of the significant weather event.

3. NWS Confirms EF-1 Tornado Ripped Through Forest Lake Area

In July, the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 touched down in the Columbus and Forest Lake area for roughly eight minutes. That was enough time to collapse a garage and damage buildings that were in its roughly nine mile-path.

4. NWS Confirms Record-Early Tornadoes Near Zimmerman, Clarks Grove

On March 6, the National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes that touched down near Zimmerman and Clarks Grove, setting a record for the earliest date in Minnesota history that a tornado was ever recorded. The previous record was set on March 18, 1968.

5. It's Colder in Minnesota than in the Arctic

Minnesotans know winters in the state can be brutal and on Dec. 26, residents were treated to winter weather colder than the actual Arctic. The high for the day was -2 degrees, with temperatures dropping to roughly -12 degrees that night.

Meanwhile, 2017 was a year of significant national and international weather events. Here are those top five weather stories:

1. Hurricane Irma Slams Turks and Caicos on Path to Florida

In September, Hurricane Irma—which reached a Category 5 storm classification at its strongest point—battered the Turks and Caicos Islands and threatened the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The fearsome storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean and killed 134 people total. The storm set several records.

2. The Total Solar Eclipse

The total solar eclipse that occurred in August cut a 70-mile-wide path of totality across the country, when the moon moved between Earth and the sun, blocking it for as much as 2 1/2 minutes. It was the first coast-to-coast full eclipse since 1918. Minnesotans gathered to experience the eclipse during several events.

3. Wildfire Smoke from Canada, Pacific Northwest to Affect Minn. Through Saturday

Wildfire smoke from Canada and the Pacific Northwest affected air quality in Minnesota on a couple of days in September. The area affected by the smoke included Alexandria, Brainerd, Marshall, Ortonville, St. Cloud, and Worthington. The tribal nations of Mille Lacs and Upper Sioux were also affected.

4. Hurricane Harvey's Devastation

Hurricane Harvey spun through Texas in August, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana — enough to cover all of Manhattan a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep. It set a record for rainfall from a tropical system in the continental U.S., dropping 51.88 inches (1.3 meters) just outside Houston. That's only an eighth of an inch (3.2 millimeters) behind the U.S. record set in Hawaii in 1950. The hurricane killed 77 people total. Minnesotans were interested in ways to help aid efforts and about the animals that were rescued from the affected areas.

5. A Stunned Puerto Rico Seeks to Rebuild after Hurricane Maria

In September, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies, twisted metal gates and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees worked to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis. The Category 4 storm was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years and killed 66 people.


Rebecca Omastiak

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