Top 10 Weather Events
in 2004

Here is a listing of the Top 10 Weather Events for 2004 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 (10), Emergency Managers (7), and members of the media (7).

A sincere thank you to the Midwest Regional Climate Center, Minnesota Climatology Working Group, the Iowa State Climatologist, Vernon County Emergency Management, and the Storm Prediction Center for use of graphics and/or links. Thanks also to the spotters who sent in their photos.

Updated: 12/13/05 - tjs

Contact Todd Shea, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, for additional information.

10. April 17 Severe Thunderstorms

Severe thunderstorms moved through the region prompting 23 warnings and produced 34 large hail reports. Hail over 2 in diameter fell near New Hampton, IA, Waukon, IA, and Spring Valley, MN.

9. Cold Summer

It was the 4th coldest Meteorological summer (June 1st to August 31st) in Rochester, MN with an average temperature of 65.3 degrees. La Crosse, WI had their 8th coldest.

8. July 19 Hail Storm

A storm tracked south from the Eau Claire area producing large hail and wind damage as it crossed Trempealeau County and then moved right through the city of La Crosse. Hail approached 3 inches in diameter damaging roofs and cars. Building damage occurred in La Crosse. Another storm formed in northeast Iowa and tracked through the Decorah area producing large hail and funnel clouds. A total of 10 warnings were issued.

Here is a picture of hail stones that fell at the NWS Office that day: (Click to enlarge)

Click here to see radar imagery of this storm.

7. June 16 Tornadoes

Six small tornadoes hit rural parts of northern Iowa and southeast Minnesota. Most of the tornadoes were very brief touchdowns without damage. One tornado (F1) tracked southwest for about 5 miles across Mitchell and Floyd Counties. A total of 18 warnings were issued.

6. May / June Wet Weather

May and June 2004 were very wet months. The two month totals were 15 to 20 inches in some locales, nearly as much as we normally see over the entire growing season. May 2004 was the wettest May ever in La Crosse, WI (9.73") and Austin, MN (8.43") and the 10th wettest ever in Rochester. It was the 4th wettest spring ever in La Crosse. The drought from Aug.2003 ended.

May 2004 Departure from normal rainfall. June 2004 Departure from normal rainfall.

5. May 8 Heavy Rains / Flash Floods

Heavy rain fell from several rounds of storms focused on extreme northeast Iowa (Allamakee Co.) and southwest Wisconsin (Crawford & Vernon Co.). 5 to 8 inches of rain hit the Lansing, IA, Ferryville, WI, and DeSoto, WI areas causing massive mud and rock slides. A woman was killed in rural southwest Vernon County when she drove into a flooded creek that flows into the Bad Axe River. Thirteen warnings were issued.

Click here to read the event summary for May 8, 2004.

NWS La Crosse staff members issuing flash flood warnings on May 8, 2004. Destroyed Jeep from flash flood. Courtesy of Vernon County Emergency Management.

4. Sept.14-15 Heavy Rains / Flood

A record rainfall event hit southern Minnesota producing widespread flooding. Hardest hit was the Austin, MN area where the Cedar River and nearby creeks rose out of its banks and damaged hundreds of homes. A man died while trying to cross the swollen river. A total of 18 warnings were issued.

Click here to read the event summary for the Sept.14-15, 2004 flooding.

3. June 23 Tornadoes

Four tornadoes touchdown in western and central Wisconsin associated with a complex of thunderstorms that also caused thunderstorm wind damage in parts of southeast Minnesota. One tornado hit Jellystone Campground in Warrens, WI injuring several people. Another tornado tracked 16 miles across Juneau and Adams Counties causing extensive damage to homes, mobile homes, and trees. A total of 18 warnings were issued.

Click here to read the summary for the June 23, 2004 event.

2. June 11 Tornadoes - "State Line Tornado"

Six tornadoes hit rural parts of northern Iowa and southeast Minnesota, including a F3 that crossed the Iowa-Minnesota state line near Le Roy, MN ('State Line Tornado'). Several homes were demolished including one grain farm that sustained heavy damage. There were no known injuries or deaths. This was the first F3 in the NWS La Crosse service area since 1994. A total of 14 warnings were issued.

Click here to read the summary for the June 11, 2004 event.

1. May 21-23 Heavy Rains / Flood

Rounds and rounds of heavy rain produced widespread flooding across northeast Iowa. Roads were washed out with numerous mud slides. Major flooding occurred on the Turkey River in northeast Iowa where an all-time record level was established at Garber, IA of 32.8 feet. Flooding was also reported in parts of southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin. A total of 64 warnings were issued during this 3 day period.

Click here to read the event summary for May 21-23, 2004.

Total rainfall from May-18-24, 2004. Total May rainfall for Iowa Counties.

Links to previous Top 10: is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.