Top 10 Weather/Climate
Events in 2013

Here is a listing of the top 10 weather and climate events for 2013 in the NWS La Crosse Warning and Forecast Area. This includes areas of southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and southwest/central Wisconsin.

This listing is the result of voting among NWS La Crosse staff members (8), Emergency Management Directors (7), and members of the media (14).

Climate related data and numerous images courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (

For additional information, contact:

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Honorable Mention: October 4-5 Heavy Rains

Several strong to severe thunderstorms produced 2 to 6 inches of rain causing numerous washouts, mudslides, and stranded vehicles.  Southern Minnesota was hardest hit with Preston, MN (Fillmore Co.) receiving 6.65" of rain and Grand Meadow, MN (Mower Co.) had 6.23".

Read a summary of the event at:

10. March 10-11 Snow Storm

One of many late season snow storms produced heavy snow from northern Iowa, across southeast Minnesota, and into north central Wisconsin on March 10-11th.  Snow was far lighter from eastern Iowa into southern Wisconsin.  The snow was very wet and heavy but the strong winds still led to some drifting.  89 schools around the region were either closed or delayed classes.

Spring Valley, MN (Fillmore Co.) had 12.5", Harmony, MN (Fillmore Co.) reported 11.5", and Chatfield, MN (Olmsted Co.) had 10" even.

Read a summary of the event at:

9. July 25 Hail Storm

 Severe thunderstorms produced large hail over parts of southeast Minnesota into west central Wisconsin on July 25th.  The hail was largest and most concentrated along and near Interstate 90 around La Crosse, WI damaging hundreds of cars and roof tops.  Hail reach 2.5" in diameter and fell in odd or spiked shapes at times.  The event did not last long but hail damages in the region approached a million dollars.

Read a summary of the event at:

8. March 4-5 Snow Storm

A passing storm system brought two rounds of heavy snow that totaled 4 to 11 inches of heavy, wet snow.  This caused major travel problems and led to the closing of most schools in the region. 

Read a summary of the event at:

7. 2012-2013 Snowfall

While the start of the 2012-13 winter started relatively quiet, snow really piled up from February 2013 on. Between February and May, Rochester, MN had 57.6" of snow (a normal complete winter would be 51.9") while La Crosse, WI had 35.7" (8th snowiest on record). Rochester had 29 days with measurable snow, while La Crosse had 27 during this period - 2nd most for this time period.

Other stats for Rochester, MN - the 4th snowiest season overall, 10th snowiest February, 3rd snowiest March, and snowiest May ever.  Dodge Center, MN set the record for the largest official 24-hour May snowfall total ever recorded in Minnesota with 15.4", part of their 17.2" total for the storm.

For a snowfall map of Wisconsin (2012-2013 season) - click here. (Courtesy of NWS Milwaukee)

6. May 29-31 Severe Weather

Numerous thunderstorms on May 29th dropped an EF0 tornado along the Iowa-Wisconsin border south of Prairie du Chien, WI and produced wind damage of 50 to 70 mph over southwest Wisconsin. Several buildings had roof and wall damage in Richland County, WI alone.

More storms hit the area on May 30th producing wind damage.


The last few rounds of storms hit on May 31st with an isolated EF0 tornado in Floyd Co., IA and lots of large hail reports.

Heavy rain from the 3 days of storms brought a lot of area rivers into flood as well. There were 51 warnings issued over the 3 day period.

Links to the 3 severe weather events are:

5. Cold March & April

Temperatures averaged 6 to 9 degrees colder than normal in March and April of 2013. Many locations reported their coldest March and April since 1950 or 1975. This delayed the spring planting by several weeks, seriously hampering how the season would unfold.

Graphics (courtesy of the Midwest Climate Center) showing how far the temperatures were below normal for March-April and March-May 2013 are shown to the right (click on image to enlarge).

4. May 19th Severe Weather

Rounds of severe thunderstorms brought sporadic wind damage to the area with 30 warnings. Four to seven inches of rain fell on Mitchell County, Iowa causing widespread flooding and an increase on the Cedar River into major flood stage. Mitchell County, IA had 22 roads closed, 6 to 8 bridges washed out, with estimated damage costs of $4.5 million. An estimated 15% of the corn crop was lost.

Numerous northeast Iowa counties were included in Presidential Disaster Declarations.

You can read a summary of the event at:

3. Tale of Two Growing Seasons

Record or near record precipitation was recorded between February and June around the region, while record warmth and a "flash" drought developed during the latter half of the summer.  It was a very strange year climatologically with one extreme to the other.  Hard to grasp over a years time, the weird seasonal weather had a much bigger impact to crops than most realized.

For the first half of the year, Rochester, MN had their wettest period on record (30.76") and La Crosse, WI had their 2nd wettest (24.75"). Agricultural interests had a tough time getting crops in during the spring due to the cold (mentioned above) and wet soils, but then had to deal with unusually dry conditions during the end of the season, losing millions in crops. Southeast Minnesota was hit the hardest with late spring rains that even set records in May and June. Central Wisconsin was hit the hardest with drought since lower amounts of rain had hit earlier in the year, but drought conditions even developed further west where there had been a rainfall surplus before summer.

Grand Meadow, MN had 14.64" of rain in May while Calmar, IA had 12.72". In June, Genoa, WI had 12.82" while Prairie du Chien, WI had 13.78", both new records.  Meanwhile Rochester, MN had their 3rd driest "late summer" stretch after the wettest start to the year ever.

Percent of normal precipitation for March and April 2013 (click to enlarge).

Graphic showing how quickly the drought developed between July and September 2013 (click to enlarge). This is also called a "flash drought" because it came on so quickly.

2. June 21-26 Heavy Rain and Flooding

Several nights of thunderstorms brought extensive flooding to the region with some areas experiencing 500-year flood frequency rainfall in 48-hours. Mainly overnight rainfalls produced flash flooding and mudslides closing hundreds of roads around the region.

Tributary rivers like the Upper Iowa, Turkey, Root, and Kickapoo had several crests well above flood stage as each round of rain fell.

Damage costs were well into the millions with numerous bridges and roads damaged or closed. There were 39 warnings issued (mainly Flash Flood).

An event web page that links to each days weather can be found at:

Accumulated precipitation from June 2013 (click to enlarge).

Graphic showing severe weather reports in June 2013 (click to enlarge).

Flooding in Boscobel, WI (click to enlarge).

Total 7-day rainfall June 21-27 (click to enlarge).

1. May 2nd Record Snow Event

Even though temperatures had reached the lower 80s and there had been severe thunderstorms the day before, a late spring snow storm dropped 8 to 17" of snow from northern Iowa across southeast Minnesota and into northwest Wisconsin. The snow was very wet and heavy.

This rare May snow broke records at many locations, especially southeast Minnesota where Rochester had 14" on May 2nd and Austin recorded 10". A total of 57 schools were closed or used delays for 2 days.

A complete summary of the rare May snow storm can be found at:
and the Minnesota Climatology Working Group has a summary of the event at:

May 2nd Snowfall Records Set
Dodge Center, MN 15.4" Osage, IA 7.0" Mondovi, WI 8.3"
Rochester, MN 14.0" St Ansgar, IA 5.2" Medford, WI 2.0"
Zumbro Falls, MN 10.4" Elma, IA 2.1" La Crosse, WI  0.8"
Austin, MN 10.0" Charles City, IA 1.0"     
Byron, MN 9.6"        
Elgin, MN 7.4"        
Theilman, MN 6.2"        
Wabasha, MN 5.6"        
Grand Meadow, MN 5.0"        
Preston, MN 4.0"        
Lanesboro, MN 1.6"        
Spring Valley, MN 1.0"        

Updated: 12/29/13 - tjs is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.