2012 got off to a warm start with January finishing over 6 degrees above the monthly normal. Temperatures did jump around though, with highs in the 40s and 50s 8 times, and in the single digits to teens 4 times. Lows only dropped below zero 3 times though, well below the average of 11 to 12 days. Meanwhile, precipitation was right on the January normal. Measurable snow fell on 6 days, with 5 of those receiving an inch or more. The highest one-day amount for 2012 came on the 12th with 5.4 inches.
The warmth continued in February with temperatures never falling below zero and only two days with below normal temperatures. In an average February, morning lows drop below zero on 6 to 7 days. Although precipitation finished above normal, it was a dry month until the last two days. Less than ¼ inch of precipitation fell through the 27th. On the 28th and 29th, however, 1.22 inches of rain dropped on La Crosse – 85 percent of the monthly total. Snow was hard to come by, with only 4 days with measurable snow. Three of those days recorded ½ inch or less with a one-day high of only 1.8 on the 13th.
Mother Nature turned up the heat even more in March. Average temperatures finished a whopping 15.9 degrees above normal, easily crushing the previous warmest March on record. The 50.4 monthly average was more than 3 degrees above the 1878 record of 47.1. The month did start out cool though with highs in the 30s for the first 5 days. It quickly warmed after that with the warmest part of a month coming on an 8-day stretch from 14th through the 22nd. Highs topped 70 everyday, reaching 80 or better on the 17th and 18th. Lows during this stretch were above the normal highs. 18 daily temperature records for highs and warmest lows were set or tied. The warmth was welcomed by many, eager to leave the colder winter months behind. Plants also responded with early blooms on flowers and many trees budding out. Unfortunately, a lot of this vegetation would be damaged or killed in April when freezing temperatures returned. There were 12 days with measurable precipitation, a bit above a typical April, but amounts were generally small. With all the warmth, snow was almost non-existent. There were 4 days with a trace of snow, all in the first 8 days, with the monthly total of ½ of an inch falling on the 4th.
April brought a dose of normalcy to La Crosse as temperatures tumbled downward to more seasonable spring values. While April did finish a bit above normal, below normal temperatures were recorded on ½ the days. Freezing temperatures occurred 6 times, with a chilly 26 on the morning of the 11th. The cold temperatures damaged and killed some vegetation that blossomed and budded early due to the exceedingly warm March. Highs couldn’t even break 50 as late as the 28th (48 degrees). Precipitation was on target for a typical April, but started out quite dry with only 0.06 inches falling through the 12th. The bulk of the monthly precipitation fell over the next 7 days (2.81) with 1.60 inches falling on the 19th. The last snowfall of the 2011-12 season came on the 28th when a trace of snow mixed in with 0.15 inches of rain.
May returned to 2012’s warm trend, finishing around 4 ½ degrees above normal. Temperatures bounced around quite a bit though, typical for a spring month transitioning from a winter to summer pattern. High temperatures were 80 or greater 13 times, topping 90 on the 19th and 27th. However, temperatures also failed to warm above 70 11 times, with a rather chilly 59 on the 31st (coldest day of the month). April finished nearly ½ inch above normal for precipitation, most of it falling at the start and end of the month. From the 9th through 23rd only a trace of rainfall was recorded.
On the strength of a historically warm March, the spring months averaged 54.7 degrees, making it the warmest spring on record for La Crosse (easily beating the previous record of 53.9 degrees set in 1977). Also of note, the average temperature in March was actually warmer than the average temperature for April.
The summer month’s started fairly cool with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s for the 1st and 2nd of June. Temperatures warmed after that, reaching 90 or greater 9 times – well above the typical June average of 4. That said, June had its handful of cooler days, with highs in the 70s 7 times and lows in the 40s 3 times. Rainfall was about an inch below normal with most of the month’s total falling at mid-month. The bulk of the rain came on 3 days, with 14th, 16th and 20th accounting for 90% of the 3.24 inch total. After the 20th, only a trace of rain fell. In fact, this stretch of dry days would persist through July 12th – a span of 21 days with only a trace of rain.
The oven was switched to “high” and was stuck there for much of July. The 79.6 average just beat out the previous warmest July on record of 79.5, set back in a dust bowl year of 1936. It was also the warmest month on record for La Crosse. Highs were 90 degrees or greater a whopping 16 times – a number only exceeded by July of 1901 (18) and July of 1970 and 2006 (17). Highs reached 100 or greater on the 4th, 6th and 17th. The worst of the heat was at the start of the month. Heat Advisories and Excessive Heat Warnings were in effect for most of the region from the 2nd through the 6th. Tragically, the extreme heat of July resulted in the loss of life. Five residents of western and central Wisconsin perished from heat related causes. The causes for the prolonged heat, mostly a strong upper level ridge, also resulted in a dry weather pattern for the region. Measurable precipitation only occurred on 7 days in July at La Crosse, with 5 of those days recording less than ¼ of an inch. Nearly 2/3rds of the monthly total came on one day – 1.31 inches on the 24th.
August brought some relief from the heat with temperatures right around the seasonable normals. Highs did reach 90 or greater 7 times, but were also in the 70s 9 times, with a cool 69 degrees on the 9th. Temperatures were below normal on 16 out of 18 days from the 5th through 22nd. Additional relief via rain did not occur, however. Measurable rain fell on 9 days, but like July, 7 of those days were well under ¼ of an inch. The 4th accounted for more than ½ of August’s total (1.32 inches – 61%).
The hot June and July helped the summer months round out as the 3rd warmest on record for La Crosse (74.3 degrees). While the lack of rainfall did not set any records, the persistent dry conditions impacted crops and exacerbated a drought that been going on. The early warm-up and then freeze, along with the lack of summer rain, made for a very poor growing season for many.
Temperatures bounced around quite a bit in September and the month wound up finishing about a degree below normal. There were 3 days that warmed to 90 degrees or greater, but there were 2 days that couldn’t crack 60. The first freeze of the fall season came on the 23rd when temperatures dropped to 31 degrees. This was well ahead of the usual first fall freeze for La Crosse – October 11th. Unfortunately, rain continued to a rare commodity. It was the 3rd month in a row where monthly deficits were over 2 inches. What did fall came during the first part of the month. From the 18th through the 30th only 0.01 inches were recorded.
October continued the cool trend with the monthly average 2 degrees below normal. There were just as many days with highs in the 70s (6) as there were in the 40s. Low temperatures dropped to freezing or lower 10 times, a few days more than the average of 7 in a typical October. Precipitation was above normal for a change, but that’s somewhat misleading. Nearly the entire 3.33 monthly total came on 4 days (93%), with 3 of those approaching an inch for a daily total. So, there was some relief to the very dry conditions, but not the prolonged period that was needed.
November returned the early warm ways of 2012, finishing around 2 degrees above normal. Interestingly, there were as many below normal days as above, but when it was warm, it tended to be well above normal. There were 4 days when highs topped 60, but 3 days where temperatures could not reach freezing. The 11th and 12th of the month had the most dramatic swing as a cold front swept across the region. It warmed to 65 degrees on the 11th, but could only top out at 29 on the 12th. In addition, that front brought nearly an inch of rainfall to La Crosse on the 11th, and the only measurable snowfall for November on the 12th (0.1”). This was well below the normal of 4 to 5 inches. The 0.98 inches of rain on the 11th accounted for 79% of the monthly total. There were only 5 days with measurable precipitation and only 0.02 inches of rain fell after the 11th.
December started off quite warm, with above normal temperatures on 18 out of the first 20 days. The warmest day was the 3rd with a high of 64, 16 degrees warmer than any other December day. Temperatures cooled for the last third of the month, at or below the monthly normals. Precipitation was above normal while the 18.3 inch snow total was well above the normal of 11.3 for an average December. In fact, the 18.3 inch amount was almost as much as the entire 2011-2012 winter season in La Crosse. Two winter storms accounted for a bulk of the snow with 6.7 inches on 9th and another 5.8 on the 20th. The 20th saw near blizzard conditions at La Crosse with winds gusting to 40 mph while averaging 20 through the day.
|2012 will be remembered as one of the warmest on record for La Crosse. March crushed its previous warmest on record by over 3 degrees, setting or tying 18 daily high temperature records. On the whole, 28 daily records were set or tied for warmth, with the only cold record coming on September 23rd (tied for coldest). July baked the region and was the warmest month on record for La Crosse. Unfortunately the extreme heat in the early part of July resulted in the loss of life. Weather had a big impact on the crops. The very dry conditions exacerbated an ongoing drought, negatively impacting plant growth and harvest. Meanwhile, the early warmup in March followed by an April freeze damaged many fruit trees in the region.|
|Highest temperature for 2012||103 on July 4th and 6th|
|Lowest temperature for 2012||-11 on January 21st|
|Highest one-day precipitation||1.60 inches on April 19th|
|Highest one-day snowfall||6.7 inches on December 9th|
|Number of days with highs at or above 90 degrees||37|
|Number of days with highs at or below 32 degrees||42|
|Number of days with zero or below temperatures||5|
|Peak wind gust||53 mph from the west on April 15th and May 3rd|
|Number of days with measurable precipitation||106|
|Percentage of days with measurable precipitation||29%|
|Number of days with above normal temperatures||228|
|Percentage of days with above normal temperatures||62%|