From January, which produced the coldest air mass in almost three decades, to mid-July, which gave us a flash heat wave, we saw an extraordinary 170 degree difference between the wind chill and the heat index in the Twin Cities. A barrage of winter and spring storms throughout Minnesota led to widespread river flooding and shattered the February snowfall record. Intense thunderstorms battered all corners of the state from mid-July through September, with straight-line winds, tornadoes, hail as large as grapefruits and localized flooding. Almost every month of the year saw above-average precipitation, leaving the Twin Cities and many other cities with record-breaking totals.
Minnesota's wettest year ever
The wettest year in Minnesota history began when a mild winter gave way to a subzero polar vortex and dramatic February snowstorms that left hundreds of travelers stranded in hotels, churches and shelters. A dreary spring brought late blizzards, then periodic downpours that continued into the summer and fall, leaving soggy farm fields and delayed harvests. By Thanksgiving weekend, when Duluth was buried under nearly two feet of snow, most places in Minnesota had broken their annual precipitation records. The two wettest years in Minnesota history have now occurred since 2016. The prior record, set in 1911, had held up for more than a century.
Most months had higher-than-normal precipitation
10 months in 2019 had higher-than-normal precipitation levels in the Twin Cities, setting a new record of 43.17 inches. The statewide mean annual precipitation exceeded 35 inches, making it the wettest year ever. September was the wettest month of the year with an average of over 6 inches of rainfall statewide.
Not much warmer
Only Only 4 months in 2019 were warmer than the 30-year average with July as the hottest on average. Overall, the average temperature for the year was one degree cooler than normal.
A month-by-month look at 2019
First subzero day of the season on the 19th was the latest on record, but the month ended with the coldest air in nearly three decades.
February: Record snow
The month demolished February snowfall records across the state. Just days after homeowners shoveled out from nearly 10 inches of snow, a blizzard dumps another foot across much of southern Minnesota amid howling winds with 50 mph gusts. Nearly 40 inches total make it the snowiest February ever recorded at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and a harbinger of a wet year.
March: Frigid air
High temperature of 0° F on March 3 tied for second-lowest high temp on record for the month.
April: Snowy and wet
Spring storms led to 50% more precipitation and four times more snow than normal. Gov. Tim Walz declares a statewide emergency when a blizzard causes major power outages and nearly 200 traffic accidents in more than a dozen counties. The late winter storm pounds Minnesota with at least 9 inches of snow, along with sleet, hail and rain from Red Wing to Granite Falls.
May: Wet spell
Wettest month of the year in the Twin Cities, with more than 6 inches of precipitation
June: Dry spell
Below normal rainfall for most of the state. Two southern counties got over 7.5 inches of rain. The soggiest fields that some farmers have ever seen cause many to delay planting corn and soybeans for weeks. They predict that each day of delay could cost them about 2½ bushels of yield per acre at harvest time. Many farmers debate whether it’s even worth putting a crop in the ground.
July: Near-record heat
A heat index of 115° F on the 19th tied for second-highest all-time at MSP.
August: Severe storm
Large hail hit northwest suburbs on Aug. 5. Aug. 26 saw tornadoes and a waterspout near Mille Lacs. Two more months of swampy weather and heavy rain culminate in the worst lake outbreaks of E. coli and bacteria in at least two decades. Dozens of people fall ill and beaches are closed at Lake Minnetonka, Lake Nokomis, and Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun after heavy rains wash animal waste, bacteria from fertilizer and other runoff into Twin Cities lakes.
September: Late summer
Nine days in the 80s starting on the 15th, with a July-like 72° F dew point on the 30th.
October: In the top 10
Statewide average precipitation was 4.1 inches – nearly 2 inches above normal and the ninth-wettest October on record.
November: Major winter storm
Thanksgiving weekend brought heavy waves of snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain and strong winds. Minnesota records its worst sugar-beet harvest in at least 40 years, as rain and snow keep farmers out of their fields until it’s so late that the crop is damaged by frost. A blizzard of historic proportions buries Duluth under nearly two feet of snow, closing highways and bringing the city to a halt.
December: Icy end
The last weekend of the year brought icy conditions to much of Minnesota, causing nearly 500 vehicle crashes on state roads. With nearly a month left in the year, most cities across Minnesota have already set new annual precipitation records. By mid-December Rochester has received 54.28 inches of precipitation, fully 10 inches above its previous annual record. The Minneapolis-St. Paul total climbs to 43.17, breaking the previous record, 40.32 inches in 2016.