(NEXSTAR) – 2020 was an unprecedented year in more ways than one. While the deadly coronavirus pandemic swept the world — and headlines — it couldn’t push aside the conversation around systemic racism following the death of George Floyd or the highest turnout election in the country’s history. Those stories are what 2020 will likely be remembered for in the United States, but there were a lot of other major developments this year.
From fleeing royals to out-of-control wildfires, here’s a look at some of the major storylines that may have been the big story of the year in a less chaotic trip around the sun.
- Australia ablaze: Australia continued to fight a series of devastating wildfires in January that started at the end of 2019. At least 33 people died and 27.2 million acres were burned. It would not be the last time wildfires made headlines in 2020.
- “Megxit”: In January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, stepped down from some of their royal duties, choosing to spend time between the U.K. and North America.
- Kobe and Gianna Bryant die in a helicopter crash: Los Angeles Laker star, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, six family friends and the pilot died in a helicopter crash in California in January. The group was traveling to a basketball game in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
- Harvey Weinstein found guilty: Movie exec Harvey Weinstein was found guilty in February of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual acts. For many, the conviction represented justice carried out against one of the central figures representing the need for the Me Too movement. In October, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced six additional sexual assault charges against Weinstein.
- Possible UFO sightings: In April, the Pentagon released video footage of “unidentified aerial phenomena.” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough told CNN: “After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”
- Ghislaine Maxwell arrest: Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in July on charges of helping to recruit, train and traffic young women and girls.
- Massive West Coast wildfires: Throughout the summer, a series of wildfires swept across the West Coast, burning thousands of acres. In California alone, more than four million acres of land were scorched. The fires swept smoke-filled air across the country, with NPR estimating that nearly 50 million people in California, Oregon and Washington had experienced at least one day of “unhealthy” or worse air quality during the wildfire season, as of September.
- Beirut blast: On Aug. 4 a huge explosion shook Beirut, killing at least 190 people and injuring and displacing thousands. The blast was caused by the explosion of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate being stored at a port in Lebanon’s capital.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legal legacy: 87-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September due to metastatic pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton and was considered by many to be a feminist icon for her work on the court and with the ACLU. Shortly after her death, the national conversation swung from her legacy to how her seat would be filled and how the balance of the court and the presidential election would be impacted by that process. The Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat in October.
- Trump tests positive: On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced they tested positive for COVID-19. A series of Trump confidantes and cabinet members also tested positive. Trump was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and released after three days.
- Election certification: Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris won the General Election in November by more than seven million votes, but the process of beating incumbent Donald Trump, also required fending off dozens of legal challenges to vote counts in a handful of key states that were decisive for the Electoral College. The race may someday be remembered primarily for the record-setting vote total and the election of the first female vice president, but in 2020 much of the focus was on certifying the vote.
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