Central Indiana 2011-2012 Winter Summary


 

 

Winter 2011-2012

in Review

 

 

With March 1 comes the end of meteorological winter, a period defined as covering the months of December through February. The winter of 2011-2012 in central Indiana was much warmer than normal. This winter was the warmest on average in Indianapolis since 2002 and the 3rd warmest on average over the last thirty years. With the more frequent mild weather, snowfall totals were abruptly lower across all of central Indiana than the previous two winters. Indianapolis received 27 more inches of snowfall last winter compared to the 2011-2012 winter. This was the 5th least snowiest winter in Indianapolis since 1980.

 The following is a review of weather conditions experienced in central Indiana during the winter season of 2011-2012.

  

Temperatures

 

DECEMBER

 

The mild temperatures experienced this fall continued into early December, with high temperatures into the 50s on the 3rd and 4th. Temperatures dropped back to more seasonable levels on the 5th with the passage of a cold front. The coldest air of the season arrived during the afternoon of the 9th as a weak disturbance moved through the Great Lakes. Many locations experienced the coldest low temperatures of the month on the morning of the 10th as temperatures fell into the teens. Despite abundant sunshine on the 10th, much of central Indiana remained below freezing all day, the first sub-freezing high temperatures of the season.

The cold air was unable to remain across the Ohio Valley for any extended period, as the return of ridging aloft and southerly flow ushered high temperatures into the upper 50s and lower 60s by the 14th and 15th. Temperatures returned to more seasonable levels once again by the 16th in the wake of a cold front. After the brief cool down however, zonal upper level flow of a Pacific origin reestablished. With colder air from western Canada largely remaining cutoff from progressing into the Great lakes and the Ohio Valley, temperatures remained mostly at or above normal for the rest of the month. Christmas Day was mild and dry with many locations near 50 degrees during the afternoon, a stark contrast from Christmas 2010 when temperatures struggled to climb out of the 20s with several inches of snow on the ground across central Indiana. After the 19th, low temperatures never got lower than 20 degrees across the region.   

JANUARY

January kicked off 2012 with mostly above normal temperatures throughout the month, and only 3 brief periods of below normal temperatures. The first cold snap occurred on the 2nd and 3rd after a strong cold front pushed through the area bringing lows in the teens and highs in the 20s to low 30s across much of central Indiana. The area quickly shifted to a more benign weather pattern and persistent southwesterly winds brought temperatures to near 20 degrees above normal just a few days later. Many locations experienced highs in the upper 50s and some even reached 60 degrees on the 6th! The warm swing lasted through the 11th until a potent low pressure system drew cold Canadian air into the region, which allowed for temperatures nearly 10 degrees below normal from the 13th through 15th. On the 13th, high temperatures struggled to reach 20 degrees with many locations remaining in the teens throughout the day. A brief warm-up occurred on the 16th and 17th due to the return of southerly flow as rapidly moving ridge of high pressure pushed east of the region. A series of cold fronts brought the last cold snap of the month from the 18th to 21st. On the 20th, some northern locations even dipped below zero degrees. From the 22nd onward, the remainder of January stayed above normal and highs near the end of the month rose back to near 60 degrees, an unusually pleasant treat for many Hoosiers this time of year.

High temperatures warmed to 50 degrees or better on 10 days in the month of January at Indianapolis. This was the 14th time in recorded history at Indianapolis that at least 10 days during the month of January were at 50 degrees or better, and the first January since 2006 when the temperatures warmed to or above 50 degrees 14 days.

 

FEBRUARY

February continued the stretch of above normal temperatures, contributing to one of the warmest winters on record. The majority of February was dominated by ridges of high pressure with weak disturbances and associated frontal boundaries influencing the area. Several quick moving stronger systems brought more varied swings in temperature to central Indiana during the last third of the month. 

The month started out with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above normal during the first week and trended to near normal by the 9th. Following a cold frontal passage on the 10th, a strong area of high pressure ushered in the coldest air of the month through the 13th with lows in the teens and highs in the 20s to mid 30s. The warm air returned to central Indiana from the 15th through 18th with broad ridging in place and only a weak low pressure system tracking across the area. A cold front brought a brief period of near normal temperatures through the 20th and strong southwesterly flow ahead of the next frontal system allowed temperatures to climb into the mid and upper 50s on the 22nd. Below normal temperatures and highs in the low to mid 30s were brought back into the region behind a strong departing low pressure system on the 25th. Yet another warm up wrapped up the month with many areas reaching highs in the 50s and even the upper 60s to low 70s by the 29th ahead of a strong low pressure system and associated cold front. The high temperature in Indianapolis on the 29th was 69 degrees, making it the warmest day since November 14th of 2011.    

    

Temperature Data for Sites in Central Indiana

 

Site

Winter 2011-12 Temperature

Normal Temperature

Diff. From Normal

Indianapolis Int’l Airport

36.0

30.5

+5.5

Lafayette

34.6

29.1

+5.5

Muncie

33.8

28.9

+4.9

Terre Haute

36.0

30.7

+5.3

Bloomington

36.5

31.5

+5.0

Shelbyville

36.6

30.7

+5.9

Indianapolis – Eagle Creek

34.6

30.6

+4.0

 

 

Winter Extremes Across Central Indiana

 

Site

Warmest Temperature

Coldest Temperature

Indianapolis Int’l Airport

69 on 2/29

11 on 1/15

Lafayette

67 on 2/29

-1 on 1/20

Muncie

68 on 2/29

-1 on 1/20

Terre Haute

67 on 2/29

11 on 1/14 and 1/15

Bloomington

68 on 2/29

6 on 1/15

Shelbyville

71 on 2/29

12 on 1/15

Indianapolis-Eagle Creek

67 on 2/29

8 on 1/15 and 1/20

 

 

Precipitation

 

 

DECEMBER

December was another wet month. Monthly precipitation was near normal to above normal for much of Indiana.   Melted precipitation ranged from 1.5 inches to nearly 8 inches. Much of central and southern Indiana received monthly amounts of 3 to 6 inches. The least amount of precipitation fell in extreme northern Indiana near Lake Michigan and the most in south central and southeast Indiana. December’s precipitation was fairly evenly distributed.  Significant rainfall or melted precipitation of 1 to possibly more than 2 inches occurred on the 4th-5th, 14th-15th, 19th -21st and the 27th in portions of central and southern Indiana. The last rainfall of the year occurred during the afternoon and evening of the 30th as a low pressure system passed through the Great Lakes. Precipitation amounts were generally no more than three-tenths of an inch.

River flooding that began at very end of November continued through the entire month of December along the lower White and Wabash Rivers. Significant flooding occurred in portions of Jackson County along the East Fork White and Muscatatuck Rivers following the heavy rains on the 4th-5th. The next three precipitation events caused renewed lowland river flooding in central Indiana and prolonged river flooding along the Wabash River in western Indiana and the White River in southwest Indiana.

Central Indiana had only one snow event during December. The “biggest” snowfall so far in the winter season for the Indianapolis area occurred on the 27th. A very wet snow of 1 to up to 5 inches fell in portions of Indiana. Indianapolis officially received 2.3 inches of slushy snowfall. After the snow ended, temperatures rose into the middle 30s reducing the snow depth. The snow cover completely melted on the 29th as temperatures warmed into the upper 40s and lower 50s. Northeast Indiana experienced at least three minor snow accumulations during December. All of the snows were much less than what fell at the end of November.

 

JANUARY

The normal to above normal precipitation trend that began late in September continued in January. Melted precipitation totals of 1.5 to 6.5 inches occurred in the state. Once again the largest amounts were in central and southern Indiana. Precipitation fell in the form of rain, snow,

 sleet and freezing rain during January. Almost all of the precipitation in January fell from 11th through the 28th. The dry period from the end of December through the 10th allowed river flooding to end in central and southern Indiana and streams to return to normal levels. Abundant and frequent rainfall from the 11th through the 26th caused river flooding to return after the 16th and continue the remainder of January and into February. Flood levels along the Wabash River from U.S. Highway 36 to the Ohio River were slightly higher than levels experienced in December. Flood crests along the White River in the Bloomfield and Edwardsport areas were 1 to 2 feet above December levels.   

Snowfall totals in January ranged from less than an inch in much of southern Indiana to nearly 3 feet near Lake Michigan in northern Indiana. Snowfall in central Indiana ranged from about an inch to over 12 inches in the Tipton area north of Indianapolis. Much of the winter precipitation in central Indiana fell on the 12th-13th and the 19th-20th. The snow and ice did not remain on the ground long in January. Snow cover in central Indiana melted within 3 days and in northern Indiana within 5 days.   Measurable winter precipitation fell on 8 days in central Indiana and up to 12 days in northern Indiana. There wasn’t any snow cover in Indiana at the end of January.

 

FEBRUARY

Precipitation during February was below normal in central and southern Indiana for the first time since August. Precipitation in northern Indiana was normal to above normal. Melted precipitation ranged from less than an inch to nearly three inches. The most precipitation fell in northern Indiana and the least in central Indiana just south and southeast of Indianapolis. Much of February’s rainfall fell on the 29th. Precipitation during the month fell in the form of rain and snow. 

The warm and dry conditions prevailing during the month allowed flooding from January to end on the 9th. Rivers during the second half of February remained at normal levels. At month’s end, streams in central and southern Indiana were below normal for the season. Soils in portions of central Indiana had dried out enough to allow very early spring cultivation.

Snowfall totals in February were also below normal and ranged from less than an inch in much of southern Indiana to nearly a foot near Lake Michigan in northern Indiana. Snowfall in central Indiana ranged from less than an inch to nearly 4 inches in the Lafayette area. Much of the winter precipitation fell on the 4th; 10th-11th and 14th in northern Indiana and on the 14th in central Indiana. Snowfall remained on the ground in central Indiana for less than a day and up to three days in northern Indiana.

 

 

Winter Precipitation Data for Sites in Central Indiana

 

Site

Winter 2012 Precipitation

Normal Precipitation

Diff. From Normal

Indianapolis Int’l Airport

9.96

8.15

+1.81

Lafayette*

6.86

6.13

+0.73

Muncie

8.35

7.42

+0.93

Terre Haute**

7.72

7.34

+0.38

Bloomington***

6.37

9.61

-3.24

Shelbyville

9.11

8.02

+1.09

Indianapolis – Eagle Creek

9.71

7.42

+2.29

 

(*) Lafayette precipitation data missing from 1/25-1/26

(**) Terre Haute precipitation data missing from 1/20-1/22

(***) Bloomington precipitation data missing from 2/29 

 

 

Indianapolis Data

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS DECEMBER 2011 SUMMARY

 

 

Average Temperature

Total Precipitation

Total Snowfall

Highs below freezing

December 2011

37.8

5.10

2.3

1

Normal December

31.6

3.17

6.9

8

Difference from Normal

+6.2

+1.93

-4.6

-7

 

December 2011 All-Time Ranks:

Temperature: 18th Warmest

Precipitation: Tied for 16th Wettest

Snowfall: 51st Least Snowiest

 

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS JANUARY 2012 SUMMARY

 

 

Average Temperature

Total Precipitation

Total Snowfall

Highs below freezing

January 2012

33.0

3.48

4.4

              8

Normal January

28.0

2.66

8.6

12

Difference from normal

+5.0

+0.82

-4.2

-4

 

January 2012 All-time Ranks

Temperature: 27th Warmest

Precipitation: 37th Wettest

Snowfall: 55th Least Snowiest

 

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS FEBRUARY 2012 SUMMARY

 

 

Average Temperature

Total Precipitation

Total Snowfall

Highs below freezing

February 2012

37.3

1.38

2.2

2

Normal February

32.1

2.32

6.5

7

Difference from Normal

+5.2

-0.94

-4.3

-5

 

February 2012 All-Time Ranks:

Temperature: 20th Warmest

Precipitation: 36th Driest

Snowfall: 37th Least Snowiest

 

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS 2011-2012 WINTER SEASON SUMMARY

 

 

Average Temperature

Total Precipitation

Total Snowfall

Highs Below Freezing

Lows Below Zero

Winter 2011-2012

36.0

9.96

8.9

11

0

Normal Winter

30.5

8.15

22.0

27

6

Difference from Normal

+5.5

+1.81

-13.1

-16

-6

 

Winter 2011-2012 All-Time Ranks

Temperature: Tied for 9th Warmest

Precipitation: 47th Wettest

Snowfall: 41st Least Snowiest

 

 

 



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.