LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - 2012 will be a year for the record books. We survived another presidential election, the end of the Mayan calendar, and the U.S. took home 46 gold medals in the Summer Olympics. And many headlines in 2012 were also dominated by extreme weather events.
Ice in the Arctic reached its lowest amount on record and Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in the United States and Caribbean before the U.S. presidential election. But in the Coulee Region, heat and intense drought was at the top of the list.
"The most significant weather event in 2012, hands down, had to be the drought," said Alex Kirchner, Daybreak Meteorologist. "It not affected just our area, but almost the whole nation. It affected, agriculture, livestock, the corn around here, you name it… It was just one of those things that you see only come around every so often. I think this was the worst drought since the 1930s."
Abnormally dry conditions in the spring of 2012 intensified into full-blown drought by early summer. This, combined with record warm temperatures, resulted in widespread crop loss and astronomical cooling bills. And there's a good chance we'll drought again in 2013.
"Right now we're running about seven inches below normal," said Jeff Boyne, forecaster with the National Weather Service in La Crosse. "The drought will likely continue into the spring. And where it goes on from there we'll see. We're in a pattern that is very similar to what we saw in the 1930s and 1950s so we could see an extended period of drought coming up in the next five years or so."
The intensification of the drought slowed in the fall with above average rainfall in October and December.
"The precipitation was widely varying this year," said Kirchner. "Obviously we had a really dry spring and summer but then in the fall and winter things started to pick back up again… And hopefully that will continue as we get into the New Year…. And we can start to recover from the devastating drought."
We also saw an impressive number of records this year. In March, over 15 thousand record warm temperatures were set across the country. It was the hottest March on record and warmer than most Aprils. And July 2012 will go down as the hottest month in La Crosse on record. Not surprisingly, 2012 is in good standing to be the second warmest year on record.
For more information you can visit the La Crosse National Weather Service website at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/?n=top102012.
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