Central Indiana Spring 2011 Climate Summary

Central Indiana
Spring 2011 Summary
As we begin the month of June, we mark the conclusion of meteorological spring and welcome meteorological summer. The spring of 2011 will go down as one of the wetter springs in recent memory across central Indiana. The following is a summary of weather conditions experienced in Central Indiana during the months of March, April, and May 2011.
The only record broken at Indianapolis during the spring occurred on April 19 as 3.06 inches of rain fell. This shattered the old daily record of 1.70 inches from 1964. 
The spring of 2011 was tied for the 20th warmest spring ever at Indianapolis, with an average temperature of 54.4 degrees. The normal spring average temperature is 52.1 degrees, making this spring above normal by 2.3 degrees
Typical of March, temperatures rode a roller coaster through the month across central Indiana. Highs remained near normal through the first few days of the month under high pressure.   In the wake of a strong low pressure system on the 4th and 5th, colder air was brought south into the state with highs struggling to make it to 40 degrees on the 6th and 7th. Highs returned to the 40s and 50s through the middle of the month under a benign weather pattern with small storm systems moving through the state periodically with rain and clouds.
A substantial warmup began in earnest on the 16th as high pressure expanded into the Ohio Valley with southerly winds bringing the first significant stretch of warm weather for 2011. Over the next eight days, high temperatures remained mostly above 60 degrees each day, with several days where temperatures warmed into the mid and upper 70s. Several locations over south central Indiana reached 80 degrees for the first time in 2011 on the 21st, and much of the area enjoyed temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees above normal for mid-March.
In the wake of a strong cold front on the 23rd, high temperatures returned to as much as 15 degrees below normal for late March as a large upper trough established over the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley and persistent northeast winds brought continued blasts of cold air. High temperatures at Indianapolis from the 24th through the end of the month remained largely in the 40s with lows frequently falling into the 20s. At Muncie, temperatures never got above 40 degrees for several days during the last week of the month.
The roller coaster ride of temperatures from March evened out more during the month of April, leaving the month warmer than average across the area, with most areas averaging 3 to 4 degrees above average for the month.
The month started on a cold note, with many areas seeing the coldest temperatures of the month on the first of the month. Up and down temperatures continued for the first week of the month, then a substantial warm spell occurred for the second week. Highs reached the lower to middle 80s on the 10th, with average daily temperatures about 20 degrees above average for the date.
Most of the remainder of the month saw near or above average temperatures. Cold air did return on the 21st, giving some areas another freeze.
Temperatures continued to be cooler than normal to start May as a nearly stationary front kept unsettled, cool weather across much of the Ohio Valley. High temperatures largely remained in the 50s and 60s through the first week of the month. Low temperatures were chilly during this period, with frosty conditions on the morning of 5th as lows dropped into the middle and upper 30s across central Indiana. The pattern shifted beginning on the 8th and 9th as a large upper ridge expanded into the region. This brought the warmest temperatures to central Indiana since the second week of April, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. High temperatures peaked in the middle and upper 80s on the 11th and 12th, with Lafayette reaching 90 degrees.

The arrival of a slow moving upper low on the 14th led to a significant change in the weather pattern for the region, as the cool and unsettled weather pattern experienced during late April and the first week of May returned. From the 15th through the 18th, daytime temperatures were 15-20 degrees below normal, as highs struggled to climb out of the 50s under an abundance of clouds and light rain. The upper low finally began to pull away from central Indiana on the 19th and 20th, replaced by an upper ridge which brought a return to temperatures in the lower and middle 80s through the 25th. The passage of a strong cold front late on the 25th brought a quick burst of cooler temperatures on the 26th and 27th, as lower clouds lingered in wake of the front. Highs largely remained in the upper 50s and lower 60s on the 27th. The month finished on a hot and humid note as temperatures surged into the upper 80s and lower 90s over the last few days of the month with the passage of a warm front.

        Temperature Data for Other Sites in Central Indiana
Spring 2011 Temperature
Normal Temperature
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Arpt
Terre Haute
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek


        Spring Extremes Across Central Indiana

Warmest Temperature
Coldest Temperature
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
90 on 5/30 and 5/31
24 on 3/1 and 3/27
91 on 5/30 and 5/31
20 on 3/1
91 on 5/31
21 on 3/27
Terre Haute
90 on 5/30 and 5/31
21 on 3/1
91 on 5/30 and 5/31
23 on 3/1
92 on 5/31
24 on 3/31
Indianapolis-Eagle Creek
90 on 5/30 and 5/31
22 on 3/1
Overall this was the 14th wettest spring on record. The total rainfall for Indianapolis this spring was 16.68 inches. The normal rainfall total for spring is 11.41 inches, which made this spring above normal by 5.27 inches.  
Monthly rainfall for central and southern Indiana ranged from slightly over one inch in the Cayuga area of west central Indiana to nearly 7 inches in the Greenville, Ohio area of east central Indiana. Most of the area along and south of a line from Paris, Illinois to Lima, Ohio received 3 to 6 inches of rainfall during March, while locations north of this line generally received only 1 to 3 inches.
March’s rainfall was not distributed evenly. Much of the rain occurred within the first 15 days of March. Rainfall was much more widespread and lighter after the 15th.   Many areas received less than one half of an inch of rainfall during the remainder of March.
Measurable snowfall in March came after a very warm spell when temperatures reached into the middle and upper 70s from the 21st through the 23rd.   Portions of southern Indiana received 1 to 3 inches of snowfall during the evening of the 26th and early morning of the 27th. The strong March sun melted the snow by early afternoon.   On the 30th portions of central Indiana received 1 to nearly 2 inches of snowfall during the late morning. This snow quickly melted by early afternoon.
As a result of a series of rain storms from February 21 through March 15, Indiana experienced widespread and prolonged river flooding.   Rainfall in much of central and southern Indiana during this period ranged from 6 to 12 inches.   Flooding ended by March 26 after persisting for seven weeks along portions of the Wabash River.
White River flooding from Muncie to the north side of Indianapolis was the highest since March 2007. Flooding along the lowest reaches of the East Fork White, White and Wabash Rivers was the highest since June 2008. Flooding along the Ohio River in southern Indiana was the highest since January 2005.
Central Indiana saw a very wet month, with more than half of the days of the month receiving at least a trace of rainfall. Much of the southern half of Indiana received over 10 inches of rain for the month, which caused extensive flooding along rivers and streams.
The rain was caused by fronts that stalled out in our area, allowing thunderstorms with heavy rain to move repeatedly across the same areas. On the 19th, numerous thunderstorms with heavy rain moved through, giving many sites their wettest day of the month. On that day areas around Indianapolis and Shelbyville received over 3 inches of rain. The average rainfall for the entire month of April is around 3.5 inches, meaning that some areas saw nearly the average monthly rainfall in a single day.
The longest dry stretch during the month was only 3 days, which gave the ground little time to recover from the rain. This meant that the heavy rain from thunderstorms ran off quickly into streams and rivers, causing extensive flooding. Major to near record flooding of rivers occurred across the area, with the worst flooding across the southern half of the state. Flooding was the worst since 2008 in many areas, with southwest sections of the area seeing the worst flooding since January 2005.
Rainfall for May 2011 was above normal in most areas once again. However, monthly totals were significantly less than in April for many areas. Some locations in central Indiana received below normal rainfall during May.
May rainfall totals ranged from 3 ½ inches to nearly 11 inches. The heaviest rainfall occurred in south central Indiana near the Ohio River and in northeast Indiana near Fort Wayne. The driest areas were eastern Montgomery and western Boone Counties in central Indiana.
Rainfall at the very beginning of May in southern Indiana was the last in a series of rainfall events that began on April 19. Massive and historic river flooding struck the lowest reaches of the Ohio River in early May as a result of this rain.
River flooding in central and southern Indiana ended by May 19. Widespread rainfall returned again during the severe storms of May 25. River flooding promptly followed in western and southern Indiana. The last rain event on the 28th caused significant river flooding in west central Indiana.
The wet weather of April and May hindered the agricultural community. Statewide, Indiana formers were nearly a month behind in planting of corn and soybeans. Some farmers in southern Indiana were getting into their fields for the first time at the end of May.
                  Rainfall Data for Other Sites in Central Indiana
Spring 2011 Rainfall
Normal Rainfall
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Arpt.
Terre Haute
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek
Major Weather Events
A strong cold front moving through on March 23rd brought two rounds of severe thunderstorms to the area. The first cluster of thunderstorms developed during the early afternoon from Vincennes east-northeast through Columbus and Seymour, Greensburg and Rushville. These storms produced large hail up to the size of quarters in Bedford. 
A second round of thunderstorms developed over west-central Indiana on the evening of the 23rd and quickly became severe. These storms produced up to 2 inch hail as they marched east from Covington and Crawfordsville through the Indianapolis metro area and into eastern Indiana. Damage to homes from the large hail took place in New Salem in Rush County. The storms also produced wind damage, including along State Route 37 in Noblesville where winds up to 80 mph caused roof and siding damage to a number of homes and knocked down numerous trees.
Severe weather impacted many areas in Central Indiana during the month of April. Four tornadoes touched down during the month, with 3 of the 4 happening on the 19th. On that day a strong storm system moved through the area, bringing multiple lines of strong to severe thunderstorms. Widespread wind damage also occurred, in addition to the three tornadoes.
The fourth tornado touched down on April 23 when additional strong to severe storms were moving across the area. Strong storms moved across the area at times during the last week of April as well, with wind damage occurring across southern sections of the area on the 28th. Severe weather occurred on nine days during the month of April across Central Indiana.
While the majority of May had relatively benign weather, the last third of the month was quite active with various forms of severe weather. The only severe event during the first two thirds of the month occurred on May 10th as thunderstorms developed along a warm front and dropped golf ball size hail on the northeastern section of central Indiana. The other severe events occurred on May 22nd, 23rd, 25th, and 28th. On May 22nd, storms dropped hail up to 3 inches in diameter. A squall line pushed eastward across the area during the evening of the 23rd and gusts up to 80 mph resulted in numerous reports of wind damage and power outages. 
On May 25th, southwestern portions of central Indiana were placed in a high risk for severe weather for the first time since late October of 2010, while the rest of central Indiana was in a moderate risk. The approach of a potent low pressure system from the west provided a rich environment for severe storm development throughout the day. Seven tornadoes touched down during the evening causing damage ranging from EF-0 to EF-2 intensity across central Indiana. Numerous reports of high winds and large hail were common during the afternoon and evening as well. Lastly, storms near a warm front during the evening of May 28th dropped hail up to ping pong ball size.
Eleven tornadoes were confirmed across central Indiana during the spring season.
Summer 2011 Outlook for Central Indiana
The official outlook for the 2011 summer season (June-August) from the Climate Prediction Center, indicates a greater chance of below normal temperatures across central Indiana. At Indianapolis, the average temperature for the summer season is 73.5 degrees. An equal chance of above, below or near normal precipitation exists across central Indiana through the summer. At Indianapolis, the average precipitation for the summer season is 12.37”.
Data prepared by the NWS Indianapolis Climate Services Team

Questions should be referred to w-ind.webmaster@noaa.gov

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