Record Warm Spring at La Crosse and Rochester

This spring was the warmest of all-time across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.  Temperatures averaged 6 to 8 degrees above normal.  Meanwhile, precipitation ranged from near normal to 2 inches above normal.  More details can be found for La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN below:

La Crosse, WI

This spring surpassed the spring of 1977 for the warmest spring ever in La Crosse, WI.  This was mainly a result of the record warm March, which also ended up being almost a degree warmer than April.  The spring precipitation was slightly above normal and the snowfall was the 5th least.  The latter is not too surprising since over 80 percent (80.6 percent) of our normal spring snow falls during March.  More details on these statistics can be found below.

Temperatures - Warmest Spring Ever

From March 1st through May 31st, La Crosse Municipal Airport had an average temperature of 54.7 degrees.  This was 7.1 degrees above the normal of 47.6 degrees.  This was the warmest spring ever in La Crosse.  The previous record was 53.9 degrees in 1977.  The table below lists the top 10 warmest springs in La Crosse WI.

            Warmest Springs
            in La Crosse WI
               1873-2012

               Average
     Rank    Temperature    Year
     ----    -----------    ----
       1     54.8 degrees   2012
       2     53.9 degrees   1977
       3     52.0 degrees   2010
             52.0 degrees   1878
       5     51.8 degrees   1987
       6     51.4 degrees   1998
       7     51.3 degrees   1946
       8     51.0 degrees   2000
       9     50.7 degrees   1921
      10     50.6 degrees   1910


The table below contains the monthly temperatures and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

           Spring 2012 Temperatures
               in La Crosse WI

                  Average            Departure
   Month        Temperature         from Normal
   -----        -----------         -----------
   March       50.4 degrees       +15.9 degrees - Warmest Ever
   April       49.6 degrees        +1.1 degrees
   May         64.1 degrees        +4.4 degrees - 15th Warmest
 
   Spring      54.7 degrees        +7.1 degrees - Warmest Ever

  • The average high temperature was 65.4 degrees.  This was 7.4 degrees above the normal of 58.0 degrees.  This was the warmest ever.  The previous record was 64.5 degrees in 1977.
  • The average low temperature was 44.0 degrees.  This was 6.7 degrees above the normal of 37.3 degrees.  This was the warmest ever.  The previous record was 43.6 degrees in 1878.
  • The daily temperatures averaged above normal on 62 days (67.4 percent), below normal on 25 days (27.2 percent), and normal on 5 days (5.4 percent).
  • The record warmth in March caused the growing season to get a huge jump.  There were some plants that were two months ahead of schedule by the end of March. As normal frosts returned for April and early May, some damage was done to the fruit crops away from the Mississippi River. 
  • With April being 0.8 degrees colder than March, this became the first spring to have a March warmer than an April
  • The highest temperature of the spring was 91 degrees on May 19th and May 27th.  This is unusual because only 46 out of 140 (32.8 percent) springs have had a 90 degree temperature or greater.  The greatest amount was nine days during the spring of 1934.  This included 107 degrees on May 31st of that year.
  • The coldest temperature of the spring was 15 degrees on March 4th and March 5th.


Number of Days with...

     Maximum Temperature 32 degrees or below       2 Days
     Maximum Temperature 90 degrees or above       2 Days
     Minimum Temperature 32 degrees or below      15 Days
     Minimum Temperature  0 degrees or below       0 Days

Precipitation - Slightly Above-Normal

From March 1st through May 31st, La Crosse Municipal Airport received 9.02 inches of precipitation.  This was 0.12 inches above the spring normal of 8.90 inches.  While precipitation was near normal, there were extended dry periods which allowed the area to become abnormally dry (D0) at times.

The table below contains the monthly precipitation totals and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

          Spring 2012 Precipitation
               in La Crosse WI

                Precipitation         Departure
   Month            Total            from Normal
   -----        ------------         -----------
   March        1.52 inches         -0.52 inches
   April        3.56 inches         +0.22 inches
   May          3.94 inches         +0.42 inches
 
   Spring       9.02 inches         +0.12 inches

  • Measurable rain (0.01 inches or greater) fell on 35 days.  Normally, measurable rain falls on 32 days.  The greatest number of days with measurable rain during a spring was 46 days in 1903, 1927, and 2004.
  • The wettest spring day was 1.61 inches from April 19th into April 20th. 

Number of days with...

       0.01 inches or more       35 Days
       0.10 inches or more       23 Days
       0.50 inches or more        6 Days
       1.00 inches or more        1 Days

Snowfall - 5th Least

From March 1st through May 31st, the snow observer near La Crosse Municipal Airport recorded 0.5 inches. This was 8.3 inches below the normal of 8.8 inches.  This was the fifth least amount of snow during a spring and the lowest amount since the spring of 2010. The table below lists the top 10 snowless springs in La Crosse WI.

            Snowless Springs
            in La Crosse WI
               1884-2012

                 Total
     Rank      Snowfall    Year
     ----      --------    ----
       1      0.0 inches   2010
       2        Trace      1990
                Trace      1986
       4      0.1 inches   1968

       5      0.5 inches   2012
       6      0.6 inches   1919
       7      1.0 inch     1981
       8      1.2 inches   2009
              1.2 inches   1988
      10      1.3 inches   1916


The table below contains the monthly snowfall totals and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

             Spring 2012 Snowfall
               in La Crosse WI

                   Snowfall           Departure
   Month            Total            from Normal
   -----        ------------         -----------
   March         0.5 inches          -6.6 inches
   April           Trace             -1.7 inches
   May           0.0 inches           0.0 inches
 
   Spring        0.5 inches          -8.3 inches

Cloud Cover -

Number of days...

        Clear            0 to  3 tenths       35 days
        Partly Cloudy    4 to  7 tenths       29 days
        Cloudy           8 to 10 tenths       13 days

Barometric Pressure -

The lowest sea level pressure was 29.24 inches on April 16th.
The highest sea level pressure was 30.65 inches on March 9th.

Wind Data -

The average wind speed was 8.9 mph.
The highest wind gust was 53 mph from the west on May 3rd.
 


Rochester, MN

This spring surpassed the spring of 1977 for the warmest ever in Rochester, MN.  This was mainly a result of the record warm March.  The spring precipitation was normal and the snowfall tied 2010 for the least snow.  The latter is not too surprising since over 70 percent (72.5 percent) of the normal spring snow falls during March.  More details on these statistics can be found below.

Temperatures - Warmest Spring Ever

From March 1st through May 31st, Rochester International Airport had an average temperature of 53.8 degrees.  This was 8.1 degrees above the normal of 45.7 degrees.  This was the warmest spring ever in Rochester.  The previous record was 52.1 degrees in 1977.  The table below lists the top 10 warmest springs in Rochester MN.

            Warmest Springs
            in Rochester MN
               1886-2012

               Average
     Rank    Temperature    Year
     ----    -----------    ----
       1     53.9 degrees   2012
       2     52.1 degrees   1977
       3     50.1 degrees   2010
       4     49.3 degrees   1987
       5     48.8 degrees   1985
       6     48.7 degrees   1946
       7     47.9 degrees   2000
             47.9 degrees   1910
       9     47.8 degrees   2006
      10     47.7 degrees   2007
             47.7 degrees   1998


The table below contains the monthly temperatures and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

           Spring 2012 Temperatures
               in Rochester MN

                  Average            Departure
   Month        Temperature         from Normal
   -----        -----------         -----------
   March       49.1 degrees       +16.7 degrees - Warmest Ever
   April       49.1 degrees        +2.4 degrees - 15th Warmest
   May         63.3 degrees        +5.2 degrees - 4th Warmest
 
   Spring      53.8 degrees        +8.1 degrees - Warmest Ever

  • The average high temperature was 64.3 degrees.  This was 8.9 degrees above the normal of 55.4 degrees.  This was the warmest ever.  The previous record was 62.8 degrees in 1977.
  • The average low temperature was 43.3 degrees.  This was 7.3 degrees above the normal of 36.0 degrees.  This was the warmest ever.  The previous record was 41.3 degrees in 1977.
  • The daily temperatures averaged above normal on 66 days (71.7 percent), below normal on 23 days (25.0 percent), and normal on 3 days (3.3 percent). 
  • With April having the same average temperature as March, this became the first spring to have this occur. 
  • The highest temperature of the spring was 92 degrees on May 18th. 
  • The coldest temperature of the spring was 11 degrees on March 4th.


Number of Days with...

     Maximum Temperature 32 degrees or below       2 Days
     Maximum Temperature 90 degrees or above       1 Days
     Minimum Temperature 32 degrees or below      15 Days
     Minimum Temperature  0 degrees or below       0 Days

Precipitation - Normal

From March 1st through May 31st, Rochester International Airport received 8.75 inches of precipitation.  This was normal. 

The table below contains the monthly precipitation totals and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

          Spring 2012 Precipitation
               in Rochester MN
                  1886-2012

                Precipitation         Departure
   Month            Total            from Normal
   -----        ------------         -----------
   March        1.24 inches         -0.64 inches
   April        2.66 inches         -0.58 inches
   May          4.85 inches         +1.22 inches - 20th Wettest
 
   Spring       8.75 inches          0.00 inches


The area entered the spring anywhere from abnormally dry (D0) to a moderate drought (D1).  This was due to the extended dryness that occurred from August through November.  The combination of below normal precipitation and well above normal temperatures during March, caused the drought to worsen to moderate (D1) to severe (D2) by early April.  Above normal precipitation from April 18th through May 6th allowed the area to recover back to abnormally dry (D0) and moderate drought (D1) by early May.  Additional improvement was seen as another round of above normal rains fell from May 24th through May 31st.  By the end of spring, abnormally dry (D0) was just found in the southwest part of Olmsted County.

The wettest spring day was 1.73 inches from May 25th through May 26th. 

The 1.63 inches of rain that fell on May 26th was the wettest calendar day since July 15, 2011 when 2.73 inches of precipitation fell.  This was also the first time that Rochester had over an inch of precipitation this year.  This normally occurs on May 1st and there are typically 6 days annually which have at least an inch of precipitation.  There were 315 days between May 26th and the last time that over an inch of precipitation fell (July 15, 2011).  This was the eighth longest stretch and the longest stretch since a 549 day stretch from September 22, 1994 to March 23, 1996.

                Longest Stretches of Days
                Between 1 inch or Greater
                Precipitation Occurrences 
                    in Rochester MN

              Consecutive
      Rank        Days                  Dates
      ----    -----------              -----
        1       573 Days      Nov 21 1975 - Jun 15 1977
        2       549 Days      Sep 22 1994 - Mar 23 1996
        3       376 Days      Aug  5 1945 - Aug 15 1946
        4       367 Days      May 18 1910 - May 19 1911
        5       344 Days      Jun 17 1977 - May 26 1978
        6       321 Days      Jul 27 1949 - Jun 12 1950
        7       316 Days      Jun  5 1958 - Apr 16 1959
        8       315 Days      Jul 16 2011 - May 25 2012
        9       310 Days      Jun 21 1974 - Apr 26 1975
       10       308 Days      Jul  3 1960 - May  6 1961



Number of days with...

       0.01 inches or more       33 Days
       0.10 inches or more       20 Days
       0.50 inches or more        4 Days
       1.00 inches or more        1 Days

Snowfall - Tied for the Least Amount Ever

From March 1st through May 31st, the snow observer near Rochester International Airport recorded just a trace of snow. This was 12.0 inches below the normal of 12.0 inches.  This tied the spring of 2010 for the least amount of snow during a spring. The table below lists the top 10 snowless springs in Rochester, MN.

            Snowless Springs
            in Rochester MN
               1893-2012

                 Total
     Rank      Snowfall    Year
     ----      --------    ----
       1        Trace      2012
                Trace      2010
       3      0.2 inches   1981
       4      0.7 inches   1990
       5      0.8 inches   1968
       6      1.3 inches   1946
       7      1.8 inch     2009
       8      2.0 inches   1986
       9      2.5 inches   1958
      10      2.8 inches   1914


The table below contains the monthly snowfall totals and their departures from normal for the spring of 2012.

             Spring 2012 Snowfall
               in Rochester MN

                   Snowfall           Departure
   Month            Total            from Normal
   -----        ------------         -----------
   March           Trace             -8.7 inches
   April           Trace             -3.3 inches
   May           0.0 inches           0.0 inches
 
   Spring          Trace            -12.0 inches

Cloud Cover -

Number of days...

        Clear            0 to  3 tenths       42 days
        Partly Cloudy    4 to  7 tenths       38 days
        Cloudy           8 to 10 tenths       12 days

Barometric Pressure -

The lowest sea level pressure was 29.23 inches on April 16th.
The highest sea level pressure was 30.63 inches on March 9th.

Wind Data -

The average wind speed was 12.8 mph.
The highest wind gust was 69 mph from the northwest on May 26th.



Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.