The day has finally arrived to unveil the top 3 weather events of the year in Northcentral Wisconsin. Before we get into the list, I have another weather event to discuss and that is a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY in effect for most of the area for this afternoon and evening. The only counties NOT included in the ADVISORYat the time of this writing (morning) are Juneau, Adams, Waushara, Waupaca, Shawano, and Menominee. Temperatures have fallen a little below freezing and will not recover too much by late afternoon when the rain will begin and thus some of the rain will fall as freezing rain. Be very, very careful driving home from work this afternoon or heading out to New Years Eve parties this evening. Freezing rain is the worst type of precipitation during the winter season because it causes the most accidents. Later tonight the temps will plummet and it will remain very cold over the weekend so watch out for ice on sidewalks and parking lots.
3. October 26th and 27th wind storm. This wind storm was not associated with severe thunderstorms but with a large area of low pressure. Wind gusts topper out at 60 to 65 mph in the area and caused a lot of power outages. By itself, the wind would have ranked much lower on the list. What is special about this event is the low pressure system that caused the high wind. It produced the lowest pressure ever recorded in the continental United States. The center of the storm system was in Minnesota (where the record occurred) but it was close enough to Wausau to produce the second lowest pressure ever recorded here. Whenever you are dealing with an all-time U.S. weather record, and the storm in in our neighborhood, it has to go high on the list.
2. Flooding on September 23rd and 24th. Flooding rains of 3 to 5 inches hit much of Northcentral Wisconsin (some spots had 7 to 9 inches) on the 23rd and the after effects were felt quite widely on the 24th and following days.
The high rain totals were in areas south and west of Wausau. We had some amazing pictures from the Yellow River in Wood county, the Rib River in Marathon county, and the Black River in Clark and Jackson counties. Check out this cool time lapse of the Black River rising to record levels in Black River Falls. Here is a neat picture of the Rib River in Taylor county. Here is another page of blog posts with a recap of the flooding. Also helping this event get close to number one for the year is the fact that is was a record rainfall of 3.38 inches in Wausau on the 23rd.
1. Above normal precipitation in 2010! I hope this doesn’t seem too anti-climactic but I consider it the most important weather event of the year because we had previously spent 7 years in a row with below normal precipitation in Wausau and most of Northcentral. It was seven years in a row with significant periods of drought affecting everything from farmers to fishers. If you remember back to the beginning of the year you will recall that there was a severe to extreme drought in the northern half of the state. The state did not become drought-free until a little while after the flooding mentioned in #2. As many people “in-the-know” would tell you, the low water levels were getting to be worrisome. I talked to several people whose wells had gone dry and who had to drill deeper to find water. Another year or two of dry weather and we might have experienced water restrictions in area communities. Nearly everyone was familiar with the affect of the dry weather on area lakes. Several reservoirs had literally “dried-up”. Most natural lakes were down 2 to 4 feet before recovering a little this year. A few of my favorite trout streams were nearly unfishable due to low water. About 5 years ago, Carter creek in Adams county dried up completely. The dry weather also made it tough for gardeners, just ask my wife about how much we had to water the plants back in 2009. During the last 7 years we missed out on about 45 inches of precipitation! This year in Wausau we had 38.10 inches of precipitation – thus far – and this is nearly 5 inches above normal. Now we just need 6 or 7 more years with precipitation 5 inches above normal and we will catch up. While that would be nice, not everyone would be happy. I remember talking to a few folks this summer (farmers and gardeners) who were trying to grow crops on heavy clay soil and they were not happy. The excessive rain drowned out some of the crops. The mosquito population increased a bit as well this year and will continue to do so if we have successive years of adequate or above normal precipitation. I don’t think people are prepared for the onslaught of mosquitoes that will come with more years of wet weather. Those 7 years of dry weather kept most of the biting insect population waaaay down – well below what should be expected for Wisconsin. We have been spoiled.
For more big weather events in the entire state of Wisconsin, check out this page from the NWS in Milwaukee.
Stay tuned on Monday for the final numbers of 2010. We already know that precipitation was above normal, but what about the temperatures? The warmest of the year? The coldest?
Lastly in today’s post a few other yearly-end and year-forward articles for your reading pleasure:
If you only have time to read one of these this would be the one: Duh! The most obvious scientific discoveries of the year. These are things that are common sense to most of us, but were the focus of rigorous study none-the-less.
Potential scientific breakthroughs to look forward to in 2011. Not a great list, mostly things that have been expected for a while now.
The top eight space mishaps of 2010. Number 1 is the Japanese venus probe missing the planet. Perhaps it can study the sun instead, since it might be orbiting it for a few years. This is an unfortunate “loss” for JAXA, but they have many successful space missions under their belt and I wish them much success in the new year.
Have a happy new year! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on December 31, 2010