Another Year of Active Weather

With the final days of 2011 counting down, let's take a break before the next big winter storm hits our region to look back on some memorable weather events locally this year.

We start off with the major winter storm that buried much of Central Wisconsin on February 20-21.  This was the second big storm of the past winter season and once again brought the brunt of the heaviest snow south of Highway 8.  Wausau picked up 13.5" and Stevens Point received 15.8", setting all time two day snowfall records for February.  Below is a map of the snowfall totals across most of the area, along with a link to the NWS Green Bay with the rundown of snowfall amounts by observation locations.

NWS Green Bay February 20-21 Snowfall Recap

A little less than 2 months later, the focus turned to severe storms and tornadoes that swept across central & northern Wisconsin. A surge of warm air pushed into the Badger State on this second Saturday in April, as highs peaked in the lower to mid 70s.  A sharp cold front surged through during the afternoon, spawning 15 tornadoes in the state, the most ever in April.  This included the devastating EF3 tornado that impacted Merrill.  Below is a breakdown of the twisters from April 10th, along with a link to a very detailed breakdown of each twister that affected our area that day.  You can also get my perspective on this round of severe in my blog from mid-April.

NWS Green Bay April 10th Tornadoes Review

The weekends seemed to be the prime times during the spring and summer when severe weather developed in the Wisconsin River Valley.  On May 22nd, the ingredients came together again for an outbreak of twisters and severe storms in our viewing area.  Hail as large as 4.25" fell in eastern Waushara County, while a long track tornado stretched from Jackson County northeast through Juneau, Wood and Portage Counties.  More on this onslaught of severe storms can be found from my blog back in late May.

The summer featured it's share of heat and humidity, as highs soared into the 90s seven times in Wauasu from June through August, which was just a little above the average of 6 days.  No less, with the warmer air in place and the sticky conditions at times, opportunities for strong to severe storms existed for much of the summer.  Good in the sense that we didn't slip into drought conditions, but not so great if you wanted to enjoy a few lazy days without contending for time outside due to the storms. 

As we rolled into autumn, the weather pattern did settle down somewhat, but that tends to happen as we gear up for the winter weather season.  So far through the second week of December, we have been spared a major snow storm. However, if the past few years are any indication, along with the current La Nina pattern in place, there will be significant snow impacting the region in the weeks ahead.

Last but not least, the total number of twisters in Wisconsin for 2011 (as of December 8th) has been 38.  Higher than the average of 23, but not anywhere close to the record set in 2005 with 62.  Check out the graphic & link below for a full recap. It should be noted that the EF3 tornado that hit in Merrill was the strongest of 2011 in the state.  Fortunately, that was the only EF3 to occur, with the majority of twisters being in the EF0-EF1 range.

NWS Milwaukee Tornado Highlights

One other web page that I came across was that of the record weather events that impacted not only the Midwest but other parts of the country in 2011.  From the Groundhogs Day Blizzard that plastered Chicago, to the record tornado outbreaks in the southern plains and southeastern US, to the ongoing drought in Texas and parts of the desert southwest, there was plenty to remember. As the weather conditions permit, my next blog will aim to take a more in-depth look back at these extreme events.

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