Top ten for 2016 – 3 through 1

December 30, 2016 1 Comment

JUSTIN-NEW-FBNow it is time to reveal the top three weather events of 2016. Before you jump into the final three of the list, check out the honorable mentions, numbers 10 through 7, and numbers 6 through 4.

3. July 11th and 12th flooding in NW Wisconsin. Out of all the flooding that occurred this year, the event in early July was the worst. Technically, it is on the fringe of our viewing area (affecting mostly Ashland and Iron counties), but it did strike a blow to work and travel for many people who live in the northern third of the state.

Highway 13 completely washed out on July 11th/12thHighway 13 completely washed out on July 11th/12th

It was “only” 5 to 6 inches of rain but it struck in one of the most hilly and flood-prone areas of the state. One of the most dramatic scenes was that of highway 13 near Mellen in Ashland county where a 300 foot wide and 50 foot deep washout occurred. The highway remained closed for weeks. The most devastating scene was at Saxon harbor where the flooding was severe and one person lost their life. Considering the number of roadways that were washed out and the fact that it occurred at night, we were fortunate there were not more injuries, drownings and loss of life. Here is a Newsline9 recap of the event. The NWS of Duluth Minnesota also has a good review. You can view a slide show of the Saxon Harbor devastation here.

2. It was a warm year. This might not seem like a “big event” that should be high on the list, especially since we did not have any significant heat waves, however, whenever a year ends up in the top 5 in any weather category, that is fairly significant.

A warm-looking sunset in November, by Jeff HolmesA warm-looking sunset in November, by Jeff Holmes

We have yet to tabulate the final numbers on 2016, but it looks like it will be the 5th warmest year on record for Wausau with a mean temperature around 46.8. What is perhaps the most interesting is that the warmth was persistent. Every month was above normal except April and December. March was the 5th warmest on record and November was the 2nd warmest on record (for Wausau). It was a very long growing season, there was no sweltering heat, and I think I received the least amount of complaints about the weather since I have been in the business, therefore the “warm” year has to be this high on the list. The one aspect of the weather that I did receive some complaints about was the rain, which brings us to….

1. A very wet year. Considering that the precipitation total in Wausau was only a little over 36 inches (about four and a half inches above normal), Wausau did not have any single day rainfall of over two inches, and this year had about an inch LESS than last year, it might seem strange to put this at the top of the list.

Beauty after one of the frequent rains in 2016, picture by Sara StevensonBeauty after one of the frequent rains in 2016, picture by Sara Stevenson

However, recall that there are three different flooding events already in the list and we could have included more. One of the most interesting trends in precipitation this year is that all of the flooding rain occurred outside of Wausau. During the growing season, it seemed like there was a heavy rain event of multiple inches somewhere in the area every week, just not in Wausau. I can attest that in the city, it seemed like we always got just enough rain at just the right time. I didn’t have to water my garden all season. This was not the case elsewhere. A lot of gardeners and farmers were constantly battling standing water in their fields. Many locations probably ended up with record precipitation. In the Midwest region, it was the wettest year on record in Minneapolis and La Crosse. Rhinelander will end up with a record total of over 43 inches!  If there were long-term records for many of the smaller communities in Northcentral Wisconsin, there would probably be many more records to talk about. At Tony Schumacher’s place near Dorchester, he measured 45 inches of rain just between April and October!! The rain was troublesome but I always say, better to have too much rain than a drought. My wish for the New Year is for no drought once again.

Curious about what weather events made the list in previous years. Here is a list of year-end reviews since 2008.

Stay tuned early next week for “2016 by the numbers”- a tally of records and how 2016 ranks in the history books.

Meteorologist Justin Loew

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