2012 Climate Summary for the Area

The year 2012 for this region turned out to be much warmer than normal. Precipitation was significantly below normal.      

The year was characterized in general by a very warm winter through early fall. Somewhat cooler than normal conditions settled over the area in the latter part of December but that did little to affect the overall average temperatures.   The overall weather pattern was affected by the presence of La Nina, which was at weak to moderate strength early in the year. It dissipated by summer with neutral conditions overall for the rest of the year.
Temperatures:
 

Average temperatures across the region for the year turned out to be much warmer than normal, with the largest departures from normal being the average daily high temperatures. In fact it was the warmest year on record for most if not all locations across the area! 
The following table summarizes the average annual temperature and its ranking compared to previous years, average daily high and low temperatures and the departures from normal for select sites over the area:
City
2012 Average Temp.
Departure from normal*
Ranking
2012 Average High Temp.
Departure from normal*
2012 Average Low Temp.
Departure from normal*
Cheyenne
49.1
+2.8
Warmest
62.5
+4.0
35.5
+1.3
Laramie
44.2
+3.3
Warmest
59.0
+4.6
29.4
+2.0
Rawlins
46.1
+3.7
Warmest
60.3
+4.9
32.0
+2.6
Chadron
51.3
+4.4
Warmest
68.4
+5.8
34.2
+2.2
Scottsbluff
53.0
+4.2
Warmest
69.5
+6.0
36.4
+2.4
Sidney
52.3
+2.2
Warmest
69.2
+4.9
35.3
-0.7
* based on normals for the period 1981-2010.

The warmest and coldest temperatures of the year and the number of days with highs 90 or higher and lows of zero or lower are depicted for select cities in the following table:
City
Highest Temperature
Date(s)
Lowest Temperature
Date
Number of days with highs 90 or above
Number of days with lows zero or below
Cheyenne
96
June 23
-4
Dec. 25
26
3
Laramie
93
June 25
-13
Dec. 31
10
17
Rawlins
97
June 25
-7
Dec. 31
26
7
Chadron
109
Jun 26, Jul 20
-15
Dec. 26
78
13
Scottsbluff
106
June 25, 26
-9
Jan. 17
81
4
Sidney
111
June 26
-12
Jan. 17
80
7
 
Precipitation:

Precipitation across the area was well below normal, with some areas recording their driest year on record. Most locations received around to less than half the normal precipitation for the year. Cheyenne was the “lucky” site with a little under 2/3rds of its normal precipitation. 
The following table tabulates the 2012 precipitation and snowfall amounts. The year ranking, departures from average and the percent of normal are also included:
City
2012 precipitation  
Ranking
Departure from normal*
2012 Snowfall
Departure from normal*
Cheyenne
10.15
12th Driest
-5.79 (63.7%)
42.1”
-18.2”
Laramie
6.27
3rd Driest
-4.65 (57.4%)
----
----
Rawlins
4.77
Driest
-4.48 (51.6%)
----
----
Chadron
8.03
2nd Driest
-10.02 (44.5%)
----
----
Scottsbluff
6.99
Driest
-8.80 (44.3%)
24.2”
-17.9”
Sidney
7.19
Driest
-11.35 (38.8%)
----
----
* based on normals for the period 1981-2010
Return of drought conditions across the region:
The extreme dryness experienced across the area during 2012 allowed drought conditions to return with a vengeance. Drought reappeared and/or worsened across the entire region with some areas, especially much of Nebraska, going from no drought to exceptional drought as the year progressed. The following images depict this large change in drought status across the region:   

                   
                  January 1, 2012 Drought status    January 1, 2013 Drought status
                    
Other Notable Weather Events during 2012:
- First severe thunderstorm event over the area occurred on April 6th when a
  microburst caused some damage in the Alliance area.
- Most significant severe events of the season occurred over far southeastern
  Wyoming on June 6th and 7th. Large hail fell over parts of the area both
  days. The most significant tornado of the season tracked from near
  Wheatland to near Chugwater on the 7th.
- Last severe thunderstorm event was on August 6th with a microburst
  occurring at the Scotts Bluff county airport. This was unusually early for the
  last severe convective event of the season. The overall severe convective
  season was quite suppressed with only about 17 days with severe events, 9
  of which consisted of only one report. This was about 1/3rd of the usual
  number of severe events.
- Sidney, Nebraska set a new all-time record high temperature on June 26th
  when a high of 111 degrees was recorded.

- A somewhat early snow fell across much of the area on October 5th and 6th
  with a general 3 to 5 inches measured in many areas of the plains.

- A narrow band of snow produced 10.7 inches in Cheyenne from the evening
  of December 18th through the morning of the 19th, with the 7 inches on the
  18th setting a new daily snowfall record for that day in Cheyenne.    

- Many areas over the plains had a relatively rare snowfall Christmas eve into
  Christmas Day resulting in a relatively rare white Christmas.

- The greatest daily precipitation in Scottsbluff during 2012 was just 0.60 inch
   on June 7th. This is the second lowest daily precipitation amount during a
   year on record for Scottsbluff since 1893. The lowest is 0.59 inch which fell
   on May 29th in 1980.


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