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The top ten stories you clicked on in the year 2020

Screenshot of a cougar following a man in Slate Canyon in Provo. Credit: Kyle Burgess on Instagram

2020 has been quite a memorable year, and nothing quite shows the extent of all the crazy news we lived through together like going back through the top stories on your website. 

As you can see from the list, many of them seem to relate right back to the biggest story of the year: COVID-19. 

The top stories of 2020

Here are the top ten stories you clicked on at in 2020. 

A close encounter of the cougar kind 

When it comes to getting your heart rate up for exercise, nothing works better than a mama mountain lion protecting her cubs. Kyle Burgess recorded video during his Slate Canyon run near Provo, thinking he might capture the little ones. Instead, he caught video of an angry mama cougar doing her best to chase him away from her babies. 

Click the link to read more about how it went down — and find out what you should do if you find yourself on the wrong side of Mama Cat. 

Dad saves the day 

Impromptu National Anthem

Trenton Brown said he has been singing most of his life but had never performed the National Anthem solo before.
Credit: Courtesy John Futhey

Picture it: you’re at a ball game, and the sound system goes out during the national anthem. What do you do? 

If you’re Trenton Brown, you provide your own music. 

“I looked over at the announcer and the music didn’t play and didn’t play and I looked over and he was getting a little frustrated. My wife gave me a little nudge and said ‘Sing’ and I said, ‘All right,’” Brown told CNN.

Check out the full story here and watch the video — he’s got a great voice! 

The hits just kept coming

saraha desert dust sunset picNothing quite says “weird stories of 2020” like “A massive dust cloud from the Sahara Desert is headed toward the U.S.” 

Meteorologists say it really happened back in June. But don’t worry — it wasn’t a sequel to “The Mummy,” just a weird weather quirk. Every year, hot dry air moves over the ocean from the continent of Africa toward the Americas. Sometimes it even dampens the risk of hurricanes — but more frequently, we get cool sunset pics like this one. 

Check out the weather phenomenon here. 

Monolith fever 

california monolith

A monolith stands on a Stadium Park hillside in Atascadero, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Photo: Kaytlyn Leslie/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP

What would a 2020 wrap-up be without a story about the mysterious monoliths that showed up out of nowhere? First, one appeared in the red rock of southeastern Utah. Then, its slightly less-polished twin showed up in Romania — right about the time the Utah monolith vanished from view. 

Pretty soon, Romania’s disappeared but another appeared in California. Then one showed up in Great Britain.

(Don’t get us started about the gingerbread version over the holidays.) 

We still don’t really know where they came from, but we appreciated the distraction from some of the less fun headlines of the year. 

Protests turn violent in SLC

Salt lake city police car Utah rioters penalties

A police car is engulfed in flames as people protest police brutality in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo: Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

Alas, not all of our top-clicked stories in 2020 are so lighthearted. Number five on the list goes to the breaking story about protests in downtown Salt Lake City that turned violent in May, resulting in windows broken, a citywide curfew, and a police car flipped on its top and set ablaze. 

The protesters initially took to the streets of Salt Lake in response to the death of a Black man in Minnesota while in police custody. It was one of many violent protests inspired by George Floyd’s death across the country. 

Here’s our initial reporting from that day

Volunteers pitched in the next day to help clean up and repair damage. 

Costco, other stores implement mask policies


FILE — Jared Camberos and Jordi Camberos take water, toilet tissue and other items to their car as they and other shoppers at the Lehi Costco prepare themselves over coronavirus concerns on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Number six on our list of most-clicked stories in 2020 came about when Costco announced it would require members to wear masks in its stores. 

Back in April, when we were still facing shortages of toilet paper and cleaning wipes, the retailer announced changes including a mask requirement as part of a campaign to keep customers safe and healthy. 

The store was one of the first to limit how many customers could be inside their stores at once, though many other outlets, both locally and nationally, followed suit soon afterward.

Read more here

Speaking of panic buying… 

Utah small businesses

103.5 The Arrow’s Jon Smith shared this photo of the mostly-empty toilet paper aisle at Target in Salt Lake City.

We learned Utahns are among the nation’s top panic buyers during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Back in mid-March, the same day a COVID diagnosis with the Utah Jazz shut down the NBA, a report came out showing Utahns spent a whopping 261% more for that week at the grocery stores than the same week in 2019. 

That was more than enough to make us number one in the nation for panic buying. The next closest state, Maryland, only saw its spending increase by about 124% year-over-year, for comparison. 

No wonder it was so hard to find toilet paper for a while here. 

Eviction notice goes viral 

Women's eviction notice Orem

A woman in Orem says she was evicted for expressing suicidal thoughts. (Photo: Kelli Pierce)

The eighth-most clicked story of 2020 on our website shows just how much Utahns care for their neighbors. 

In October, we told you about an Orem woman served with an eviction notice over a mental health issue. She shared the notice with us, and you responded with resounding indignation on her behalf. 

What surprised us, and many of you, is this: Eviction experts said assuming the details are true, what the apartment complex did is legal. However, they also say it is very rare for landlords to evict tenants for a mental health issue unless there is a significant threat of harm to other tenants. 

COLD podcast team discovers intriguing find 

An overview of the Daybell property from the exclusive KSL/Visual Law Group forensic model, with notable locations marked.

Many of you closely followed the 2019 disappearance of two Idaho children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and her brother, 7-year-old JJ Vallow.

In 2020, shortly after the children’s remains were found on property belonging to their mother’s new husband, Chad Daybell, in Idaho, the COLD podcast team and KSL TV discovered something else: satellite imagery, dating around the time Tylee was last seen, suggested the earth had been disturbed in Daybell’s yard. 

Tylee was last seen on Sept. 8, 2019 at Yellowstone National Park with her uncle and brother. The satellite image showed evidence of disturbed ground at Chad Daybell’s property the very next day. 

It’s just one part of a very complicated story, but you can learn more about how COLD uncovered it here

Last but not least 

The 10th most-clicked story of our website in 2020 seems to fit a pattern — it’s about your money and COVID-19. 

Prices at the grocery store went up a LOT in 2020. While they fell in a lot of areas, like for the rates of hotel rooms or airfare or even car insurance, the exception to the rule was the stuff all of us buy the most: grocery store staples. 

As always, analysts say it goes back to supply and demand: coronavirus disrupted the supply chain, but our demand didn’t go down, so as a result, prices went up. In fact, with more of us cooking at home, demand actually rose for kitchen staples. 

Check out the story here

What did we miss? 

Yes, we know we covered a lot more stories not represented here — but for whatever reason, the clicks took you more often to these ten. 

Some honorable mentions include the historic 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Utah in March, right at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown, and the windstorm that brought hurricane-force gales to the state in September. Don’t both of those things seem like a million years ago? 

I have an idea for a future in-depth report. How do I tell you about it?

We would love to hear your ideas. You can email our team at If you are hoping to reach a specific member of our team, you can also contact them directly through our bios, here.