Weather Wednesday: John Wheeler recaps the biggest weather stories of 2020

In this weeks Weather Wednesday, STORMtracker meteorologist John Wheeler looks back at the three biggest weather stories from 2020.


Weather in the Northern Plains is well-known for going to extremes and 2020 certainly has done that.

Extreme weather event #1 was the snow drought. By mid-January our region had already had enough snow for the entire winter and plans were laid for another serious flood fight in the spring.

However, then it just stopped snowing. Fargo-Moorhead got just two inches of snow through all of Feb. and March; Grand Forks just had seven inches.

Although there was pretty high water from Grand Forks downstream, it was made manageable by the below-average snowfall.

Extreme weather event #2 was the Dalton tornado. It was a very active summer storm season. The National Weather Service Office in Grand Forks issued the most severe thunderstorm warnings in ten years.


The most violent, and also most photogenic storm happened in the late afternoon of July 8. The Dalton tornado was rated EF-4 for winds estimated at 170 mph.

It was on the ground for 30 minutes travelling just nine miles in that span of time. The slow forward speed, and the clear sky to the west and south, made the tornado remarkably photogenic.

Extreme weather #3 was the perfect harvest season. After several very wet falls in a row, including a disastrous harvest season in 2019, the weather went dry for the fall of 2020.

In fact, Grand Forks recorded its driest fall on record, with just 0.79” of precipitation September through November.

Fargo’s 2.17” of fall moisture was not a record, but dry enough to get all the crops in without issue.

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