Plentiful Precipitation

May 1, 2017 0 Comments

Given all the wet weather recently, it might be hard to remember the last time we had a significant dry spell or drought around North-Central Wisconsin. The most recent severe drought occurred in the southern half of the area in 2012. A longer term dry spell occurred in the previous decade. The drought-like conditions were so pervasive for so many years that it topped my list as the most notable weather event of the 2000 to 2009 period (check this blog post for the top events of that period).

Now that your memory has been jogged, you might remember that some flowages along the Wisconsin river became very low. Lake Nokomis in Tomahawk was down to just a trickle late one Summer. Even natural seepage lakes were down 2 to 3 feet in some locations. The western Great Lakes had gone down enough that (unnecessary) apocalyptic headlines cropped were written about their demise. I personally recall having to water my garden quite frequently during these time periods. It was annoying, to say the least.

Things have changed quite a bit since then. I have been a happier gardener in recent years. Except for the aforementioned 2012, every year since 2010 has been above normal on precipitation in Wausau. Normal yearly precipitation in Wausau is 32.41 inches Here are the annual total precipitation stats:

  • 2010: 38.14 inches
  • 2011: 35.61 inches
  • 2012: 29.46 inches
  • 2013: 38.52 inches
  • 2014: 40.89 inches
  • 2015: 37.29 inches
  • 2016: 36.98 inches

Here we are in early 2017 and we already have 11.91 inches (through the end of April) and it isn’t even the (typical) wet season yet. No worries about drought for the next couple of weeks at least, but you never know how the weather patterns will change. Hopefully we can avoid much drought through the growing season for the 5th year in a row – that would be nice.

Picnic Island Flooding, March of 2016

In addition to having above normal yearly precipitation, many monthly precipitation totals since 2010 have ranked quite high.

  • July 2010: 6th wettest July
  • September 2010: 5th wettest September
  • October 2012: 7th wettest October
  • December 2015: Wettest December on record
  • March 2016: Wettest March on record
  • December 2016: 9th wettest December on record
  • January 2017: 10th wettest January on record

In addition to the months listed above, there were several that ranked in the top 20. There were a few months when precipitation was below normal but none were that remarkable except February of 2015 when only 0.17 inches of precipitation fell, making it the 7th driest February on record.

Of the precipitation that has fallen so far this year, most of it came in April. With the 0.15 inches that fell before midnight last night, the total for the month in Wausau is 5.79 inches. The record wettest April occurred back in 1954 when 6.06 inches was recorded during the month. We were only 0.27 inches away from breaking the record. It the rain had started a bit earlier in the evening on Sunday, we might have broken it.

As for the rest of the weather parameters during the month of April, surprisingly, it ended up above normal in Wausau. The temperatures averaged 2 degrees above normal. It probably did not seem that warm because it was fairly cloudy and rainy during the month. You might be surprised to recall that we had 11 days during the month when high temps were in the 60s. There were two days when the high temps reached 74.

As far as the rainy weather goes, there were 21 days during the month when at least a trace of rain fell. There was one stretch in the middle of the month when at least a trace of rain fell on 13 consecutive days. There was one record daily rainfall. That was on the 19th when 1.10 inches was recorded in Wausau. There was one other record set for the month, that was a record warm low temperature on the 9th, when the low for the day was only 54. Here are the final stats for April in Wausau:

Average High: 56.9  (normal 54.8)

Average Low: 35.3  (normal 33.3)

Precipitation: 5.79 inches (normal 2.73 inches)

Snowfall: 1.7 inches  (normal 4.1 inches)

Highest Temperature: 74, on the 9th and 25th

Lowest Temperature: 28, on the first and the 12th

Meteorologist Justin Loew


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