2012 Year in Review

2012 was a year of climate extremes across the NWS Jackson forecast area. It was an unseasonably warm year across the entire region - particularly the first half of the year. In fact, it was the warmest year on record at Hattiesburg, where the official climate record extends back to 1948. It was also the 5th warmest year on record at Jackson, and the warmest year since 1927. There was a less consistent theme with respect to precipitation across the region. Annual rainfall totals varied drastically from the very dry ArkLaMiss Delta, where totals were in the 40" to 45" range (departures of greater than 10" below normal at Greenville) to very wet conditions across the remainder of the area. At Jackson, the yearly precipitation total was 69.52", which was good enough to rank as the 7th wettest year on record. Other sites in the Jackson area had over 70" to nearly 80" of rain for the year.

2012 was a somewhat active year with respect to severe weather. The unofficial Mississippi tornado count for 2012 is 46, which ranks above the yearly average of 29 tornadoes. However, this count is much lower than 2011's total of 97 tornadoes across the state. Hurricane Isaac brought major impacts to the area in August, especially to south Mississippi. A more detailed month-by-month summary of major weather events can be found below.

2012 vs Normal

    Jackson Meridian Hattiesburg Greenville Greenwood TVR Starkville
Average
Temperature
2012 Avg
Departure
67.1°F
+2.5°F
65.5°F
+1.9°F
68.5°F
+2.4°F
65.8°F
+2.4°F
65.1°F
+1.5°F
66.4°F
+1.7°F
65.0°F
+2.5°F
High
Temperature
2012 Avg
Departure
78.3°F
+2.7°F
77.5°F
+1.7°F
80.2°F
+2.5°F
76.9°F
+3.0°F
77.0°F
+2.2°F
78.8°F
+2.9°F
76.5°F
+2.3°F
Low
Temperature
2012 Avg
Departure
55.9°F
+2.2°F
53.6°F
+2.3°F
56.9°F
+2.3°F
54.8°F
+2.0°F
53.2°F
+0.9°F
54.0°F
+0.5°F
53.6°F
+2.8°F
Precipitation
2012 Tot
Departure
69.52"
+15.38"
62.75"
+6.59"
67.52"
+8.35"
41.93"
-10.71"
44.26"
-7.51"
54.76"
+0.02"
60.86"
+5.64"

January

2012 got started on a rather warm note, a trend that would continue throughout the first half of the year. Average monthly temperatures across the area were 6°F to 8°F above normal. It was also unusually dry in most locations, with monthly rainfall deficits as high as 2.04" at Greenwood and 3.53" at Greenville. There were a few notable severe weather events during the month. On the afternoon of the 17th during a relatively isolated severe weather event, an EF-2 tornado tracked across parts of southern Marion County, injuring 2. Yet another strong tornado occurred on the evening of the 23rd near Alligator in Bolivar County, injuring one. This tornado was part of a larger regional severe weather event. Finally an EF-1 tornado occurred on the evening of the 25th near the Stronghope community in southeast Copiah County. This was another very isolated severe weather event, with no other major damage being reported across the area.

February

Warm weather conditions continued into February, although not quite as warm as January. Average monthly temperatures were still 2°F to 5°F above normal. The continued warmth added up to top ten warmest winters at Hattiesburg (5th), Vicksburg/Tallulah (5th), and Greenwood (7th). It was a much wetter month across most of the area. Monthly totals were more than 3" above normal at Jackson and Hattiesburg. However, below normal precipitation was observed in the Delta, a theme which would continue for much of the year. There were relatively few severe weather events throughout the month. On the 1st, severe thunderstorms caused primarily wind damage along and north of the U.S. Highway 82 corridor. On the 18th heavy rainfall produced flooding and flash flooding over southeast Mississippi. More wind damage occurred on the 23rd, but it wasn't the result of thunderstorms. It was strong gradient winds that were the problem. Peak wind gusts of 40-50 mph were common west of I-55, and a few gusts over 50 mph were reported as well.

March

Unseasonable warmth continued into and was perhaps most prevalent in March. 3 out of 6 area climate sites (Greenville, Hattiesburg, and Vicksburg/Tallulah) set a new record for the warmest March. At the other 3 sites, it was the second warmest March at Greenville, 3rd warmest at Jackson, and 4th warmest at Meridian. Precipitation was near or above normal across the area, and as much as 3 1/2" above normal at Meridian and Hattiesburg. There were three systems that brought notable severe weather to the area during the month. The first system affected the region during the afternoon and evening hours of March 2nd. Several storms produced hail to the size of golfballs across the area, with a few reports of baseball size hail as well. Two weak tornadoes were reported in this event, one in Lamar and Forrest counties and another in Jefferson Davis County. On March 11th, another system brought very heavy rainfall and severe thunderstorms to the western portion of the area. Flash flooding was most prevalent across northeast Louisiana. In addition, an EF-0 tornado occurred in West Carroll Parish. The last major system affected the region between March 21st and 22nd. On the 21st, seven tornadoes (3 EF-0s, 2 EF-1s, and 2 EF-2s) touched down across the area. The most notable of these produced damage across northern Claiborne and Warren counties, and near Pelahatchie in Rankin County. In addition widespread flash flooding and river flooding occurred, especially over southeast Mississippi. In this area, several roads were closed or damaged by flood waters.

April

After a record warm March, temperatures were closer to normal but still above average during April. It was also a generally dry month with rainfall as much as 3" to 4" below normal over eastern Mississippi. Despite the fact that April is in the middle of spring severe weather season, remarkably there were no tornadoes across the NWS Jackson forecast area or the state of Mississippi. On April 2nd, a complex of severe thunderstorms pushed across the area, downing several trees and utility lines and causing mostly minor structural damage in a few locations. One tree fell on a mobile home in Crossett, Arkansas, causing an injury. There were also a couple reports of golfball size hail across south central Mississippi. Additional severe storms were reported on the 3rd and the morning of the 5th. Some of the hail on the morning of the 5th was large enough to shatter the windshield of a vehicle in Washington County.

May

The trend of above-normal temperatures continued into May, with average temperatures generally 2°F to 3.5°F above normal. This wrapped up a record warm spring for the region, with Greenville, Greenwood, Meridian, Vicksburg/Tallulah and Hattiesburg all experiencing the warmest spring on record. In addition, it was the second warmest spring on record at Jackson. Precipitation was well below normal across much of south Mississippi, the ArkLaMiss Delta, and northeast Louisiana. It was above normal along the I-20 corridor and east of I-55, including the Jackson and Meridian areas. Though there were several days with active thunderstorms in May, there were once again no tornadoes reported across the NWS Jackson county warning area. On the 21st, multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms produced hail up to golfball size and downed trees and power lines. On the afternoon of the 30th, widespread severe weather was reported with several trees downed and penny to nickel sized hail reported. Then on the 31st, a line of thunderstorms downed even more trees and power lines across the area.

June

June was a dry month over most of the area, with rainfall deficits of up to 3" to 5" over south Mississippi, the Golden Triangle, northeast Louisiana, and southeast Arkansas. Many of these areas were already abnormally dry, and the continued lack of rainfall led to the onset of short term drought conditions and increased fire danger in the area. Temperatures were closer to normal than in previous months, with departures ranging from 1°F to 2°F across the region. It was actually the 9th coolest June on record at Greenwood. An influx of dry air over the last week of the month led to some large daily temperature ranges at a few sites. On the 27th, there was a range of 42 degrees between the high and low temperatures at the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport, with the high temperature setting a new record high, and the low coming only 2 degrees shy of a record low. There was also a range of 43 degrees at Greenwood that day. There were relatively few significant weather events during the month. The most notable event took place on the 11th, when a large complex of severe thunderstorms pushed from north to south across the area during the evening hours. As many as 45,000 were without power due to widespread tree and power line damage resulting from 60-70 mph winds. An 81 mph wind gust was recorded on a private weather station in Isola, Mississippi, and significant roof damage occurred in Sunflower County.

July

July brought much needed rainfall, especially to areas along and south of the Natchez Trace. Monthly rainfall totals topped 10" in many areas, with 13.53" reported at Brooklyn in Forrest County. On the other hand, precipitation remained below normal across much of the Delta, with deficits of over 2" in some areas. This further contributed to ongoing drought in this area. Temperatures were generally above normal across the entire area, with departures in the 1°F to 2°F range. There were no widespread severe weather events during July; however, there were numerous days with active thunderstorms which produced isolated to scattered reports of wind damage and hail. On the 5th, reports of wind damage were a bit more numerous, including some roof damage in the Brookhaven area. An early morning cluster of thunderstorms produced wind damage across the Golden Triangle on the 6th, then another cluster of storms that afternoon resulted in additional wind damage. There were also several days with flash flooding thanks to the above normal precipitation.

August

Without question, the biggest weather story in August was Hurricane Isaac. As early as the 28th, the Pine Belt began to experience the effects of the system with strong winds downing a few trees. As the storm slowly spread northwestward across the area during the daytime on the 29th, there were more scattered reports of downed trees across south Mississippi. The worst conditions during the system began on the evening of the 29th and continued into the morning of the 30th. Winds increased across south Mississippi, with gusts as high as 54 mph recorded at a weather station in Franklin County. Areas along and south of the U.S. Highway 84 corridor were particularly hard hit, with several trees and power lines downed. At one point it was estimated that 80% of the roads in Franklin County were blocked by downed trees. Flooding also became a serious issue as over a foot of rain fell in some areas. Water rescues took place in Lamar, Marion, and Clarke counties. Many of the creeks and streams were flooded across south Mississippi. Isaac finally began to move more quickly to the north during the daytime hours on the 30th, bringing very gusty winds to northeast Louisiana, southeast Arkansas, and west Mississippi. Wind gusts up to 51 mph were recorded at the Vicksburg/Tallulah airport and 53 mph at a personal weather station in Hollandale, Mississippi. This caused scattered wind damage, mainly downed trees, across the western portion of the area. Conditions finally began to improve by the 31st, although some lingering thunderstorm activity from Isaac produced damaging winds in the Vicksburg area.

Thanks largely to Isaac, precipitation was well above normal across most of the area in August (almost 10" above normal at Hattiesburg). In fact, it was the wettest August on record at Hattiesburg, and the 4th wettest August at Jackson. This also contributed to the summer of 2012 being the 2nd wettest summer at Hattiesburg and the 4th wettest at Jackson. Temperatures were near or slightly below normal during the month. This wrapped up a summer that was above average, but much less so than the summers of 2010 and 2011. Aside from tropical cyclone Isaac, there were a few other interesting weather events during the month. On the 9th, thunderstorms developed ahead of an approaching cold front, causing scattered wind damage from the Jackson area southeastward to the Hattiesburg area. Later on that evening, additional severe thunderstorms developed across southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana. Hail up to the size of golfballs was reported in Richland and Madison parishes, and significant wind damage occurred in portions of Franklin Parish, where several trees, utility poles, and signs were blown down. On the evening of the 13th and the early morning of the 14th, an unseasonably strong cold front set off a round of severe weather across portions of the Delta southeastward into east central Mississippi. Golfball size hail fell in Sunflower County, and several trees and power lines were downed with the storms. An unusual event occurred on the afternoon of the 19th, when a fair-weather waterspout developed over the northern end of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and lasted for several minutes. The waterspout never caused any damage, but was seen by several people and prompted a brief Tornado Warning for Rankin County. Finally, there was a major hydrologic story ongoing during the month of August. Due to below normal rainfall over the Midwest and exceptional to severe drought in the Missouri, middle and upper Mississippi, and Ohio river valleys during the early part of the year, very low stages were observed along the Mississippi River. This had a very negative impact on transportation on the river, including the movement of crops and other goods.

September

For the second month in a row, precipitation was well above normal across much of the area. Rainfall surpluses were as high as 3.18" at Greenwood. It was the 6th wettest September on record at Greenwood, and the 10th wettest September at Greenville. A few other sites across the Delta were as much as 5" above normal for the month. Temperatures were generally near normal across the area, with mean temperature departures generally within 1°F of normal values. Following a very active August, September was much quieter in terms of severe weather. Late on the evening of the 3rd and continuing into the early morning hours of the 4th, a weak front and some lingering upper level energy from tropical cyclone Isaac sparked off isolated severe storms in the Golden Triangle area. These storms produced a few instances of damaging winds and flash flooding. There were additional reports of flash flooding on the 30th when a low pressure system brought heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the region.

October

October brought below normal temperatures to the region, with average monthly departures ranging from 1°F to 4°F below normal. It was also a notably dry month, with many sites receiving less than an inch of rain. Only a tenth of an inch of rain fell at Hattiesburg during the month, making this the 6th driest October on record at the site. It was also the 9th driest October at Vicksburg/Tallulah. Generally quiet conditions continued through the majority of the month with one notable exception. An unseasonably strong cold front caused a regional severe weather outbreak on the evening of the 17th and the early morning hours of the 18th. The majority of the severe weather remained north of I-20. Eleven tornadoes were reported in the NWS Jackson forecast area, which tied as the most to occur in an October severe weather event in the state of Mississippi. The most significant of these tornadoes was an EF-3 tornado that tracked through Scott and Newton counties. This was only the 2nd F3/EF-3 ever to occur in October in the state of Mississippi. Additional tornadoes were confirmed in Bolivar, Grenada, Sharkey, Humphreys, Yazoo, Leake, Hinds, and Neshoba counties. Significant straight-line wind damage occurred on the south side of the city of Greenville. The same upper level storm system that caused the October tornado outbreak deepened over the central United States bringing strong winds to the Great Plains. The high winds picked up dust over these states, spreading it eastward across the Lower Plains and Southeastern States. This dust limited visibilities to the 4-6 mile range from the I-20 corridor northward to the Delta and Golden Triangle during the daytime hours on the 19th.

November

Generally cool and dry weather conditions continued into November. Average temperatures ranged from 2°F to 4°F below normal across the region. It was the 7th coolest November on record at Greenwood. The cool conditions also contributed to an overall cool autumn. Fall 2012 ranked as the 5th coolest fall on record at Greenwood and tied as the 9th coolest at Meridian. Precipitation was well below normal with monthly rainfall deficits over 4" in some areas. It was the 4th driest November on record at Greenville, the 5th driest at Hattiesburg, and the 9th driest at Greenwood. Fall was also dry as a whole, with seasonal rainfall deficits as much as 5" to 6" below normal. No severe or unusual weather conditions were reported during the month, though some small hail was reported on the evening of the 6th with a storm that tracked from around Flora through Ridgeland and the reservoir area to near Pelahatchie.

December

Unseasonably warm and stormy conditions were observed across the region during the month of December. The Arklamiss found itself in the track of several potent weather systems that pumped warm Gulf air into the area as they approached from the west. This month was the third warmest December on record for the Vicksburg/Tallulah area, where afternoon highs pushed into the 80s on the 2nd and 4th. It was also the 5th warmest December at Greenwood and the 7th warmest at Hattiesburg. Severe storms pushed across many locations this month. An unusually intense December outbreak that occurred during the Christmas holiday season was the largest to occur on Christmas Day since official records began. This outbreak produced a total of 28 tornadoes, five of which tracked across the NWS Jackson county warning area. One of the strongest tornadoes, rated an EF-3 at its most intense, produced a 61 mile long track that passed across Forrest County. Tornadoes also occurred earlier in the month when an EF-1 and two EF-0 tornadoes were reported on the 9th and 10th across southern sections of the forecast area. The procession of storm systems this month resulted in a wetter than normal period at most locations, many areas reporting rainfall totals from 2 to 4 inches above normal for the month. Cold air that swept in behind these systems produced a brief hint of winter weather with snow flurries reported on the 26th at Meridian and Greenwood and on 25th and 26th at Greenville. Also of note was the fact that fog occurred more often than not across many areas this month and was reported during the morning hours at Greenville and Greenwood for 20 and 21 days, respectively.

 


New Records/Top 10 Extremes

It could be said that 2012 was a year of extremes. Several new monthly, seasonal, and annual records were set at area climate sites. Here is a rundown of the new top 10 monthly, seasonal, and annual records for our area climate sites.

Jackson

  • 5th Warmest Year
  • 7th Wettest Year
  • 2nd Warmest Spring
  • 3rd Warmest March
  • 4th Wettest Summer
  • 4th Wettest August

Meridian

  • Warmest Spring
  • 4th Warmest March
  • 9th Driest April
  • 9th Coolest Fall

Hattiesburg

  • Warmest Year
  • 5th Warmest Winter (2011/2012)
  • 6th Warmest January
  • Warmest Spring
  • Warmest March
  • 4th Warmest May
  • 2nd Wettest Summer
  • 10th Warmest June
  • 9th Wettest July
  • Wettest August
  • 6th Driest October
  • 5th Driest November
  • 7th Warmest December

Greenville

  • 6th Warmest Year
  • 4th Driest January
  • Warmest Spring
  • 2nd Warmest March
  • 8th Warmest May
  • 10th Wettest September
  • 4th Driest November

Greenwood

  • 7th Warmest Year
  • 7th Warmest Winter (2011/2012)
  • 10th Warmest January
  • Warmest Spring
  • 9th Driest Spring
  • Warmest March
  • 9th Coolest June
  • 5th Coolest Fall
  • 6th Wettest September
  • 7th Coolest November
  • 9th Driest November
  • 6th Warmest December

Vicksburg/Tallulah

  • 3rd Warmest Year
  • 5th Warmest Winter (2011/2012)
  • 5th Warmest January
  • Warmest Spring
  • Warmest March
  • 8th Wettest August
  • 3rd Coolest Fall
  • 8th Coolest October
  • 10th Driest October
  • 4th Coolest November
  • 3rd Warmest December

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