Top 10 of 2012, Part III

December 31, 2012 0 Comments

The day has arrived. The last day of the year. We survived 2012 and it is time to reveal our top 3 weather events of 2012 for Northcentral Wisconsin. First, I will repost numbers 10 through 4 in case you weren’t paying attention last week.

  • 10. The number 10 weather event was killing frost(s) in April. This would normally not be anything special because frost occurs very frequently in Wsiconsin during the month of April. What made the frost in April more significant this year is that temperatures had gotten so warm in March. It was warm enough in March to cause many fruit crops and trees to start growing and blossoming. Those blossoms were “ripe for the picking” so to speak, when the frost came around in April. Many apple orchards in Northcentral Wisconsin lost almost their entire crops. Other fruit trees were similarly hard hit.
  • 9. October of 2012 was the 7th wettest October on record. We recorded 5.49 inches of rain during the month in Wausau. Some spots had even more. This might not have made the list except for the fact that it was also the wettest month of 2012 and the rain came too late to do much good. The growing season, which had been very dry, was over by the time we recived enough moisture to be beneficial to the crops.
  • 8. Did I mention that 2012 was a warm year? It turns out that 10 out of the 12 months during 2012 were above normal, most of them were significantly above normal. The only two months that were below normal on temps were September and October. Even those two months were just barely below normal. 2012 was not a year when we had to complain about the cold too much. In fact, I think this year I have probably heard the least amount of complaints about “cold weather” in my entire career. It was a nice respite. Most years, most people complain nearly contantly about how cold it is, which always makes me wonder why more people do not move to warmer places.
  • 7. Making it to number 7 on the list is a non-event. There was hardly any severe weather in the area. Since most of the year was quite warm, one might think there would have been more opportunity for severe weather to develop. Interestingly, sometimes it can be too warm. If there is not enough cold air to form cold fronts at the surface, or form instability higher in the atmosphere, then thunderstorms just won’t form. Of course, it was also quite dry for extended periods of time. If there is not enough moisture in the air then we will not end up with thunderstorms, and thus little severe weather. The most active period of severe weather was from June 14th through the 20th when we had a few rounds of thunderstorms and some tornado warnings in Marathon and Langlade counties.
  • 6 – A very warm winter with little snow. This was a continuation of a trend that began in December of 2011. December (2011), January (2012), and February (2012) were all about 6 degrees above normal. Snowfall during January in Wausau was 12.9 inches but it fell over many different days and was not enough to open snowmobile trails in most of central Wisconsin. During February 12.2 inches of snow was reported in Wausau but most of that – 6.9 inches – fell on the last 2 days of the month. Snowmobile trails were able to open for a few days in some counties during early March. Because of the warm and relatively snowless Winter, the skating rink in downtown Wausau was never able to be opened. Total snowfall for the year (not including today’s light snow) in Wausau was 46.2 inches which is about 13 inches below normal for the year.
  • 5 – A strong Winter storm on December 20th. This one should be fresh in everyone’s mind as it occurred only about a week ago. It was the biggest snowstorm of the year in Wausau with a record 10.9 inches for the day. 6 to 10 inches of snow was fairly common across much of central Wisconsin. The highest snowfall in the state was in the Madison area where some locations reported close to 20 inches. In addition to heavy snow there was some gusty wind which created blizzard conditions in the southern part of the area and southern third of the state. Check this past blog post for some extra details on the storm.
  • 4 – Another strong Winter storm makes the list at number 4. This is the one that was referenced earlier, the one that occurred on February 28th and 29th. We ranked this one higher than the December 20th storm because the highest snow totals in the state were in our area. Around 20 inches of snow was reported in many locations in the northwoods. In Wausau the total was 6.9 inches. It was just enough snow to open a handful of snowmobile trails in the area, but it didn’t last long. By the 10th of March it was melting away fast. Check this past blog entry for a map of the snow totals from this storm. Check this blog post for additional information.

And now on to the top three which should come as no surprise to anyone – as they once again are related to the warm year we had.

  • 3. Heat waves! We had several heat waves during the year and the worst was from July 2nd to July 6th. In Wausau we had 5 days in a row with high temps in the 90s. On three of those days we had highs of 96. The 96 degree high temp on the 4th of July set a new record. The 96 degrees on the 5th of July tied the old record. High temps hit 100 in the southern part of our area and in the southern part of the state. As mentioned previously, it ended up being the 2nd hottest July on record in Wausau. Check these blog posts for a review of the July heat waves: Comparing to the 1930s, Holiday heat records. And, the southern half of the area had hotter temps during the July heat wave(s) because we had…
  • 2. Severe Drought. It was bad. I remember driving into southern Wisconsin over the 4th of July and already by that time, everything was brown. The drought was quite severe in the southern half of the area, south of Marathon county, through the first 6 months of the year and then spread northward into early Fall. Thankfully, the southern half of the state did receive some beneficial rain later in the year, but it was not enough to save non-irrigated crops.
  • 1. As many of you probably guessed, the number 1 weather event of the year was the record warm March. We had so much unusual warmth during March that we smashed all kinds of records all over the state, including here in Northcentral Wisconsin. We tied or broke 20 different daily records for warmth. It really felt a lot like early Summer in the middle of the month. All the snow melted and vegetation started turning green. We broke the old warm March monthly record (from 1910) by 2.5 degrees. Some further reading: Warmest March on record, Does a hot March foretell a hot Summer?, A warm spell for the ages.

And now a few more fun lists looking back at 2012 and looking forward to 2013:

Have a good Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew

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