2013 Top Weather Events, 3 through 1

December 31, 2013 1 Comment

Justin 2013 SmallBefore getting into the top three weather events of 2013, I wanted to reflect a little bit on the record low temps from yesterday. In Wausau we tied a record low with a temperature of -19. We also had a record cold high temperature of -3. Other record lows in the area were -20 in Stevens Point, -23 in Marshfield, and -27 in Merrill. What makes the -19 in Wausau quite interesting is that it is the first winter-time (December-January-February) record low since 1996. Sure, we only tied the record but it is still significant. Looking ahead in the forecast, this cold weather pattern will continue. Will there be anymore broken records? During the first week or two of January, the record lows are in the -25 to -30 range, generally speaking. These will be tough to break, but it is possible. What makes it tougher to break record lows in the modern day (in Wausau) is the heat island effect. Wausau is a lot more sprawled out than it used to be back prior to 1980, when most of the record lows occurred. The airport temperature reading is still taken from the center of the city. Tony and I have noticed that the temperature will be about 3 to 5 degrees colder just outside of the city on clear calm nights.

Interesting to also note that we started out 2013 on the cold side with a low of -7 on January first and we will end up with below zero temperatures tonight to close out the year.

Now on to the top three weather events of 2013. You can read the previous posts to find out the honorable mentions, numbers 10 through 7, and 6 through 4.

3. Drought in late Summer. After starting out the year with copious amounts of precipitation, the “faucet” was suddenly turned off around the 2nd week of July and it remained “off” for much of the area through late August. The hardest hit areas were west and south of Marathon county. Severe drought developed in west central Wisconsin around Eau Claire and La Crosse. This was the second year in a row that some of these locations developed a drought during the growing season. Crops around central Wisconsin were lucky to get off to a good start with moist ground, but I noticed a lot of brown leaves on the corn when it should have still been growing in August. Amazingly, even though there was a significant drought in late Summer, most locations around the viewing area still ended up with precipitation being around 6 inches above normal for the year, making it one of the wettest years in recent memory.

2. Late Spring snowfall. We had two snowstorms very late in the Spring season that made major headlines. The first one was on April 23rd. Three to eight inches of snow fell in the far northern and northwestern parts of the viewing area. The second one occurred on April 25th. 1.9 inches of snow was recorded in Wausau on that date, which amazingly was not a record. The old record was 3.5 inches set back in 1965. If those snowstorms did not have everyone talking, the third snowstorm did. It hit on May 2nd and broke all kinds of May snow records for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. No snow was officially recorded in central Wisconsin. Once again the heaviest snow was recorded in the far north and northwest. Hayward and Ashland recorded around 16 inches of snow. After a very cold Spring, these snowstorms were the last thing anyone wanted to see.

1. Very cold weather in March and April. If there was an event (besides the current December cold spell) that sticks out the most in people’s minds this year, it is that we were “robbed” of any warm weather during the first half of Spring. It literally felt and looked like Winter until the last week of April. Snow cover on the ground lasted longer than I can ever remember. The official snow depth in Wausau did not reach zero until April 18th. Normally we will lose our snow cover around the 3rd week of March! What was very unusual about this cold spell in Spring is that we did not break any cold records. The weather just remained persistently cold day after day. There were no short bouts of mild sunny days like during a typical Spring. We went the entire month of March without hitting the 40 degree mark in Wausau until the 27th. We went the entire month of April without hitting 50 degrees until the 24th. Both months averaged about 6 degrees below normal. We were close to breaking the record for the coldest April of all time (in Wausau) but then at the end of April, we had 5 days where the temperature rose to 70 or above and this prevented us from capturing the record. Read more about the cold Spring weather at these blog links:

As a bonus, if you have got time to surf the web a little, here are some other year-end reviews relating to technology and science:

A new form of carbon is discovered that could be harder and stronger than diamond or graphene.

Top computing stories of 2013.

Top physics stories of 2013.

The biggest consumer technology failures of 2013.

Top energy stories from 2013.

The coolest maps of 2013.

Some consumer tech highlights of 2013.

Have a good New Years Eve and a happy New Year. Meteorologist Justin Loew.

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