WORTHINGTON — Blizzards and polar vortexes, ice storms and incessant rains — all were part of what made 2019 a year to remember, or perhaps forget.
While the new year was welcomed with relative quiet on the weather scene, that all changed by the middle of the month, when the first major storm of the year wreaked havoc on, of all things, Worthington’s annual Winterfest celebration.
Jan. 18: With predictions of up to six inches of snow and strong winds, schools across the region cancelled Friday classes, and several Winterfest activities were either rescheduled or cancelled. Over the weekend, two vehicles broke through the ice on area lakes — one early Sunday morning on West Graham, and the other on Lake Shetek.
Jan. 30: Record-breaking cold temperatures descended upon the region, providing residents with those oh-so-cool (literally) visions of sundogs across the landscape.
The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the predicted minus-30 low on Jan. 30 would break a record of minus-18, which was set Jan. 30, 1996. The record cold high for the day was also shattered, and if the cold wasn’t bad enough, wind chills hit a breathtaking minus-50 degrees.
Feb. 13: With up to six inches of new snow in the last 24 hours, schools in Worthington and nearby communities once again called a snow day. That marked six snow days for District 518 students in the last 12 regularly scheduled school days.
Feb. 23: In the last two days, the city of Worthington picked up another nine inches of new snow, setting a new record for total snowfall during the month of February at 27.7 inches. (The previous record of 20.1 inches for the month was set in 2016, but snowfall data has only been collected since 1971.) Other communities fared worse, including Edgerton at 12 inches and Sibley, Iowa at 10 inches. And, up to four inches of snow was forecast for the upcoming weekend, preceded by freezing rain and wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour.
March 2: ISD 518 reports the district has called nine snow days thus far, and there has not been a full week of school since Jan. 22. The snow days have led the district to prepare for digital learning days. Adrian reported 10 lost days due to weather, Round Lake-Brewster has called eight snow days and Murray County Central had missed nine full school days.
March 9: Extreme cold temperatures led to multiple water main breaks and a frozen water tower in Ellsworth.
March 16: Melting snow and March rains combined to fill rivers and flood low-lying areas throughout the region. Cottonwood County issued a no-travel advisory due to flooded roads, and commissioners there declared a state of emergency. In Nobles County, Worthington as well as Little Rock, Elk and Lorain townships also issued no-travel advisories. In Rock County, the sheriff warned people not to drive on gravel roads for the next several weeks.
March 23: Windom High School students and community volunteers filled 11,000 sandbags Thursday, with a goal to fill 25,000 sandbags by Friday as the Des Moines River rose in the city.
April 13: Six years to the day after a significant ice storm hit the area, Winter Storm Wesley descended on the region. It delivered a combination of freezing temperatures, rain and wind and left in its wake a thick covering of ice. The ice buildup on power lines, combined with the winds, caused lines to gallop, poles to snap and a loss of power. Rolling blackouts began Thursday morning in Worthington and continued through late Friday night. The storm brought schools and businesses to a standstill, with some manufacturing companies planning to operate over the weekend to catch up. The hardest hit areas in Nobles County were the Wilmont, Lismore and Reading areas.
May 11: A single incident report stretching from March 12 through April 29 was filed by southwest Minnesota counties seeking aid from winter snow melt and spring rains. All six counties in The Globe’s coverage area of southwest Minnesota met the thresholds for both state and federal disasters. Meanwhile, Nobles County still had several stretches of closed gravel roads due to damage or high water.
June 1: Farmers are forced to make tough decisions as fields remain water-logged. The National Weather Service recorded 7.76 inches of rain for Worthington in May. While that was not a new record, the 18.56 inches of precipitation in the first five months of 2019 set a mark
July 20: Severe winds clocked at up to 75 miles per hour, combined with more than an inch of rain, hit southwest Minnesota. The storm snapped cornstalks, uprooted trees and tore the roof off a rural Worthington garden center.
Aug. 21: Two EF-1 tornadoes were confirmed in the region Saturday night — one near Hadley and the other at Rock Rapids, Iowa. The Hadley touchdown lasted five minutes and traveled nearly four miles. Wind speeds were recorded at up to 105 miles per hour, causing extensive tree damage, damage to some machine sheds and a temporary loss of power to some homes.
Sept. 14: Flooding is reported in portions of Rock, Pipestone and Murray counties. The rising waters were caused by storms Tuesday and Wednesday that dumped from 4 to 8 inches of rain across portions of Pipestone, Murray and Cottonwood counties. More than 8 inches of rain was reported near Edgerton, while Avoca recorded nearly 11 inches of rain in the 48-hour period.
Oct. 12: The first snowfall of the season hit the area at a time when farmers had much of their crop still in the fields.