2012-2013 Central Indiana Winter Summary

Winter 2012-2013

in Review

 

 

 

With March 1 comes the end of meteorological winter, a period defined as covering the months of December through February. With a very warm December followed by closer to normal temperatures through January and February, the winter of 2012-2013 in central Indiana ended up generally 2-3 degrees warmer than normal. The winter ended up being wetter than normal, largely due in part to a very wet January. The 10.36 inches of precipitation received at Indianapolis made this the wettest winter season since 2007-08. After limited snowfall in the 2011-12 winter, this winter saw a return to near normal snowfall levels. This was aided by a series of snowstorms during the last week of December that produced up to 15 to 20 inches of snow in some locations across central Indiana.
 
The following is a review of weather conditions experienced in central Indiana during the winter season of 2012-2013.
 
 
Temperatures
 
 
DECEMBER
December started off very warm as an upper level ridge brought near record temperatures in the 60s, and even lower 70s in some areas during the first four days of the month. The passage of a strong cold front on the 4th brought temperatures down, but for the most part through the middle of the month, the colder air remained bottled up to the north over Canada and the Arctic. High temperatures remained above normal across central Indiana with highs in the 40s, and occasionally the 50s, while lows in the 20s and 30s were common.
 
The passage of a strong cold front on the 20th finally ushered in a stormy and unsettled weather pattern with northwest flow bringing much colder air into the lower Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. High temperatures fell back into the upper 20s and lower 30s for the 21st and 22nd and with a fresh snow cover of a couple inches across central Indiana, lows fell into the teens on the morning of the 22nd under clear skies. After a brief warmup into the 40s on the 23rd, high temperatures fell back below 40 degrees as reinforcing shots of colder air overspread the region. For most of central Indiana, the temperature remained below 40 degrees for the rest of the month. The large winter storm that impacted the Ohio Valley late on the 25th and through the 26th, followed by smaller storms on the 28th and morning of the 29th and again on the evening of the 31st, produced an extensive snow pack of 6 to 10 inches over much of the region. With the snow and clear skies, temperatures fell into the single digits across much of central Indiana on the morning of the 30th.  For many areas, this was the coldest morning experienced since mid January 2012. Despite the much colder final ten days of the month, average temperatures ranged from 5 to 8 degrees above normal for December.
 
JANUARY
In many respects, the first month of 2013 saw temperatures take abrupt swings throughout the month from much above normal temperatures followed by extremely cold weather as Arctic airmasses expanded into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley following the passages of strong cold fronts.
 
The month started out cold and primarily dry as a sprawling high pressure moved through the region. High temperatures were mainly in the 20s to lower 30s through the 4th, with lows in the single digits and teens. Temperatures began to warm from the 5th through the following week as the high shifted off to the east and allowed southerly winds to bring increasingly milder air into the Ohio Valley. A warm front pushed through the region on the 10th with highs surging into the upper 50s and lower 60s across much of the area on the 11th and 12th. The passage of a strong cold front early on the 13th brought an abrupt end to the unseasonably warm conditions, as early morning highs in the 50s fell into the 20s by that evening. The arrival of high pressure brought another round of seasonably cool weather through the middle of the month as highs warmed from the lower 20s on the 14th into the 30s and lower 40s by the 17th and 18th.
 
Temperatures once again peaked in the 50s on the 19th, before the passage of another cold front reintroduced cold arctic air into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. The coldest air of the month followed the passage of the cold front on the 19th, with highs below 30 degrees every day through the 25th. The coldest day of this period came on the 22nd as high temperatures remained in the teens across central Indiana after morning lows for many falling into the 0 to 5 degree range. Temperatures recovered into the 30s on the 26th and 27th, then soared into the 50s and 60s from the 28th through the early part of the 30th as the passage of a warm front brought warm air from the Gulf of Mexico north into the Ohio Valley. High temperatures in the middle 60s were common shortly after midnight on the 30th ahead of a powerful cold front. At Indianapolis, the high of 65 degrees recorded shortly after 1 am on the 30th ended up setting the record high for the day. Temperatures fell sharply through the day on the 30th with the last day of the month experiencing highs only in the lower 30s and lows returning to near 10 degrees.
 
FEBRUARY
Temperatures generally ended up within a degree or two either side of average across much of central Indiana as the Ohio Valley experienced alternating periods of warmer and colder weather throughout the month.
February started out cold across central Indiana as the Ohio Valley remained under the influence of a large upper trough. The coldest high and low for the month across much of the region took place on the 1st, with temperatures struggling to climb out of the teens during the day and falling into the single digits that night. The temperatures began a slow climb back to near, then above average by the 7th as highs warmed into the 50s. The passage of a weak cold front brought highs back down into the upper 30s and lower 40s on the 8th and 9th, before another warming trend commenced on the 10th with the passage of a warm front. Highs from the 10th through the 14th generally ranged from the middle 40s to lower 50s with an extended period of dry weather.
 

Colder air returned to central Indiana beginning late on the 14th with the passage of a cold front. Highs fell back into the 30s on the 15th and even down into the 20s on the 16th with scattered flurries and snow showers impacting the region in wake of the frontal passage. The fast progressive upper level pattern persisted, with the upper trough once again shifting east and being replaced by high pressure and an upper ridge which allowed temperatures to quickly recover. With southerly winds bringing warm air into the Ohio Valley on the 18th, highs soared into the 50s and lower 60s across central Indiana, just a day after morning lows had bottomed out in the single digits and lower teens on the morning of the 17th. This warmup was once again short-lived as colder air returned with the passage of a strong cold front on the evening of the 18th. Highs fell back into the 20s and 30s by the 20th, and persisted through the 23rd as a large upper trough developed across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Temperatures warmed slightly for the last five days of the month, but remained generally near to just below average as a large storm system impacted the region with an abundance of clouds along with rain and then snow.

 

Temperature Data for Sites in Central Indiana
 

Site
Winter 2012-13 Temperature
Normal Temperature
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
33.1
30.5
+2.6
Lafayette
31.3
29.1
+2.2
Muncie*
33.3
28.9
+4.4
Terre Haute
33.4
30.7
+2.7
Bloomington
34.3
31.5
+2.8
Shelbyville**
34.5
30.7
+3.8
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek
32.5
30.6
+1.9

 
(*) Muncie temperature data missing on 1/6 and 1/7
(**) Shelbyville temperature data missing on 12/10 and 12/11
 
 
 
Winter Extremes Across Central Indiana
 

Site
Warmest Temperature
Coldest Temperature
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
69 on 12/3
4 on 1/22
Lafayette
70 on 12/3
2 on 1/2 and 1/22
Muncie
68 on 12/3
5 on 1/22
Terre Haute
72 on 12/3
1 on 12/30
Bloomington
71 on 12/3
1 on 1/2
Shelbyville
71 on 12/3
3 on 1/2
Indianapolis-Eagle Creek
69 on 12/3
4 on 1/22

 

 

Precipitation
 
 
DECEMBER
December was a wet and snowy month especially for much of central and southern Indiana. Monthly melted precipitation totals ranged from 1.5 inches in northwest Indianan to over 6 inches near the Ohio River in south central and southeast Indiana. Areas north of I-70 received 1.5 to 3 inches while areas along and south of I-70 received 3 to 5 inches. Melted precipitation for December was near normal for much of the state with some areas in northern Indiana on the dry side while portions of east central and southern Indiana were on the wetter side.
 
Drought conditions remained unchanged in northern Indiana during December. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicated about 15% of Indiana was in a moderate drought at the end of December. Stream flow ranged from seasonal levels in much of central Indiana to below normal in northern and southern Indiana. Local area reservoirs remained near or at capacity.
 
December 2012 was among the snowiest December of record for much of central and southern Indiana. 14.8 inches of snow fell during the month of December in Indianapolis.  For portions of southern Indiana, this was the most snow since the historic snow of December 2004. Snowfall totals ranged from 6 to near 20 inches. Snowfall did not begin until the 20th, but when it did, the snow made up for lost time.
 
The big snow of the month occurred on 26th, when a strong winter storm approached blizzard conditions and dropped 4 to more than 12 inches of snow on much of central and southern Indiana. Wind gusts approached or exceeded 40 mph at the height of the snow. Snowfall totals were less for west central and northern Indiana and in portions of south central and southeast Indiana that received a combination of rain, sleet and snow.
Another snow storm quickly followed late on the 28th and early on the 29th. This system did not have strong winds, but portions of southern and central Indiana received 3 to 8 inches of snow. The last snow of the month fell on New Year’s Eve as much of central Indiana received 1 to 3 inches.
 
 
JANUARY
January was a wet month with relatively little snowfall for much of central and southern Indiana. Rainfall totals ranged from 2 inches in northern Indiana to over 8 inches in west central and southwest Indiana. The heaviest rainfall was concentrated in the southwest quadrant of the state. January’s rainfall was above normal for almost all of Indiana. Portions of west central Indiana received more than three times the normal for January. This was the wettest January in 31 years for the Evansville area. However for much of central Indiana, it was much wetter in January 2005.
 
Flooding returned to central and southern Indiana for the first time since early May 2011. The highest flood levels in nearly two years occurred following rainfall of 2½ to nearly 7 inches from the 9th through the 13th. Significant flooding developed along the White River and several of its smaller tributaries. Rainfall of 1 to 2 inches from the 28th through the 30th caused another rise in streams and rivers. Lowland river flooding returned to portions of the White, East Fork White and Wabash Rivers at the end of the month and continued into February.
 
Two instances of severe weather impacted central Indiana during the month of January. The first occurred from late evening on the 12th into the early morning of the 13th ahead of a strong cold front. A squall line accompanied the frontal boundary shortly after midnight on the 13th, causing wind gusts in excess of 50 mph. There were isolated pockets of higher winds, producing sporadic damage to structures in Vincennes, and to power poles and trees in Greenwood. The biggest event of the month occurred beginning around midnight on the 30th and continuing through the overnight. An intense cold front with a squall line that extended from central Indiana south into the lower Mississippi Valley produced wind damage. Most of the damage across central Indiana was confined to areas south of Interstate 70, including across eastern Greene County where 14 homes sustained damage near the town of Solsberry. Another area of impressive wind damage occurred near Castleton Mall on the northeast side of Indianapolis, where trees and power poles were downed, along with damage to a Costco grocery store. Wind gusts in both Solsberry and across northeast Marion County likely approached 70-80 mph.
 
Little snow fell in January in central and southern Indiana. Monthly snowfall ranged from a trace in southern Indiana to 11 inches near Lake Michigan. Most of central Indiana received up to 3 inches for the month. A quick moving upper disturbance brought light snow to the region on the morning of the 25th, providing the most snow from one storm for the month as most locations received generally one to two inches. In the wake of a strong cold frontal passage on the 30th, snow squalls developed across central Indiana on the 31st as an upper level wave crossed the region. While snowfall amounts were generally less than an inch, the squalls caused brief periods of near whiteout conditions with heavy snowfall, creating travel difficulties across central Indiana.
 
 
FEBRUARY
Precipitation in February was near normal for much of the state. Portions of western Indiana were wetter than normal while areas of eastern Indiana were on the dry side. Melted precipitation totals ranged from slightly less than 1.5 inches in east central Indiana to more than 3.5 inches in portions of western Indiana. The only significant rainfall event of February occurred on the 26th when central and southern Indiana received one-half to nearly two inches of rain.
 
Lowland river flooding that began in late January ended by the 6th in southwest Indiana. Lowland river flooding returned at the end of February following rainfall on the 26th.   Flooding along portions of the White and Wabash Rivers in western and southwestern Indiana continued into early March.
 
Wintry precipitation in the state ranged from slightly over an inch in southwest Indiana to more than 24 inches near Lake Michigan in northern Indiana. Most of central Indiana received less than 3 inches during the month. Much of central Indiana areas received one-half of an inch or more of sleet during the evening of the 21st.

 

Winter Precipitation Data for Sites in Central Indiana
 

Site
Winter 2013 Precipitation
Normal Precipitation
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
10.36
8.15
+2.21
Lafayette
8.49
6.13
+2.36
Muncie
8.24
7.42
+0.82
Terre Haute*
10.10
7.34
+2.76
Bloomington**
10.44
9.61
+0.83
Shelbyville
7.09
8.02
-0.93
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek***
9.14
7.42
+1.72

 
(*) Terre Haute precipitation data missing on 12/26, 1/2-1/3, 2/22
(**) Bloomington precipitation data missing on 1/6
(***) Indy Eagle Creek precipitation data missing on 12/26, 12/30 and 1/30

 

Indianapolis Data
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS DECEMBER 2012 SUMMARY
 

 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs below freezing
December 2012
38.4
2.58
14.8
5
Normal December
31.6
3.17
6.9
8
Difference from Normal
+6.8
-0.59
+7.9
-3

 
December 2012 All-Time Ranks:
Temperature: Tied for 16th Warmest
Precipitation: Tied for 65th Driest
Snowfall: 7th Snowiest
 
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS JANUARY 2013 SUMMARY
 

 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs below freezing
January 2013
29.9
5.51
2.4
              13
Normal January
28.0
2.66
8.6
12
Difference from normal
+1.9
+2.85
-6.2
+1

 
January 2013 All-time Ranks
Temperature: 58th Warmest
Precipitation: 16th Wettest
Snowfall: 34th Least Snowiest
 
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS FEBRUARY 2013 SUMMARY
 

 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs below freezing
February 2013
30.9
2.27
2.6
6
Normal February
32.1
2.32
6.5
7
Difference from Normal
-1.2
-0.05
-3.9
-1

 
February 2013 All-Time Ranks:
Temperature: 66th Coolest
Precipitation: 71st Driest
Snowfall: Tied for 46th Least Snowiest

 

INDIANAPOLIS 2012-2013 WINTER SEASON SUMMARY

 
 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs Below Freezing
Lows Below Zero
Winter 2012-2013
33.1
10.36
19.8
24
0
Normal Winter
30.5
8.15
22.0
27
6
Difference from Normal
+2.6
+2.21
-2.2
-3
-6
 
Winter 2012-2013 All-Time Ranks
Temperature: 28th Warmest
Precipitation: 28th Wettest
Snowfall: 44th Snowiest

 

Data prepared by the Indianapolis Forecast Office Climate Services Team



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