Meteorological Winter Makes History, as do Deadly Tornadoes

By: METEOROLOGIST MARK HENDERSON
By: METEOROLOGIST MARK HENDERSON

Many have been hearing of the killer tornadoes that stormed through parts of Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and dozens more states over the past two days. It's just the latest episode in a series of severe weather events that have plagued the US so far early this year. In 2012's first two months, 130 tornadoes have been reported according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, compared to just over half of that by this time last year. That 130 number is likely to grow as more reports from Wednesday filter in overnight. Hail and wind reports have seen no shortage either, The SPC reports more than 1,200 occurrences of severe weather (58+ mph winds, 1.00"+ hail, tornadoes) since the year began 60 days ago, a dramatic rise over the 903 reports that came in during 2011's opening months.

It's the very same storm system that blanketed parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan with more than a foot of snow Tuesday night into Wednesday! Many 15"-18" reports were compiled in popular Northwoods towns such as Rhinelander, Minocqua, and Eagle River, WI, music to the ears of late-season snowmobilers who've been patiently waiting for a snow like this.

Meantime, that storm system was responsible for allowing us to reach 52­° earlier Wednesday afternoon, before a cold front passed through shifting our winds to the WNW and setting into motion a dramatic cooldown! Nonetheless, it was Day #11 since December 1st that produced a 50+ reading here, which is a remarkable tally! There'll be more statistics about the recently concluded Meteorological Winter in the coming days.

That said, I combed through the records to see just where this one ranks, and it's pretty remarkable to say the least. It wasn't the warmest Meteorological Winter on record here, but close! The warmest was 80 years ago, the winter of 1931-32 which produced an average temperature of 32.0°! Most of us will remember the #2 winter of 2001­-02, which checks in at 30.9°. This winter unofficially goes down tied for 3rd warmest all-time, with a remarkable average temperature of 30.1°! It ties the winters of 1997-98 and 1920-21!

Many have asked what this means for the spring and summer ahead -- We'll delve into that topic on Thursday!


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