Spring 2013 Climate Summary

Spring 2013 in Review
 
 
With June 1 comes the end of meteorological spring, a period defined as covering the months of March through May. The spring of 2013 in central Indiana was much different from the 2012 spring, highlighted by a cold, snowy March. March 2013 was in stark contrast to March 2012, which experienced record warmth. Central Indiana experienced much wetter than normal conditions through April, with Indianapolis missing their all-time record wettest April by 0.01 inches. Despite near normal temperatures throughout April and May, the spring season ended up running from 1 degree above normal to 3 degrees below normal. Much of central Indiana experienced average temperatures through the spring that were roughly 10 to 11 degrees cooler than the 2012 spring, which was the warmest on record.
 
The following is a review of weather conditions experienced in central Indiana during the 2013 spring season.
 
 
Temperatures
 
 
MARCH
 
A persistent upper level trough across the eastern half of the country kept cold temperatures across central Indiana for much of the month, enabling cold Arctic air to make repeated trips into the Ohio Valley and the lower Great Lakes. The daily average temperature was below normal on 27 of the 31 days in March in Indianapolis, helping to produce a monthly average temperature nearly seven degrees below normal. This made for the coldest March in Indianapolis since 1996. Even more impressive was the difference in weather experienced over central Indiana from March 2012 to this March. The difference in monthly average temperature between March 2012 and this March at Indianapolis was just over 21 degrees!
 
High temperatures remained below 40 degrees over much of central Indiana for the first seven days of the month, as the region experienced cold and unsettled conditions. This was highlighted by a late season winter storm that produced several inches of snow on the 5th and 6th. Temperatures briefly warmed from the 8th-11th as warmer air surged north into the Ohio Valley with the persistent upper trough relaxing. The warmest daytime temperatures of the month occurred on the 10th with many locations experiencing highs in the middle and upper 60s. The passage of a cold front on the 11th brought the return of the stagnant upper trough and subsequently, a return to colder temperatures for central Indiana and the Ohio Valley. Many locations remained at 50 or lower for highs for much of the rest of the month, with highs in the 20s to lower 30s. The coldest mornings came on the 21st and 22nd with lows dropping into the teens throughout central Indiana. For Indianapolis, the low of 16 degrees recorded on the morning of the 22nd made for the coldest low so late in March in seven years.
 

After a large late season winter storm impacted the region on the 24th and 25th, the upper trough relaxed again towards the end of the month, allowing for warmer air to lift into the Ohio Valley for the last few days of the month. Highs rose into the lower 60s across all of central Indiana on the 31st, the warmest day for much of the region since the 10th. This was the first time since 2008, and only the third time since 2000 that high temperatures had failed to reach 70 degrees in Indianapolis through the end of March.  

 

warm and green March Snowy March
 
A comparison of March 2012 to March 2013 at NWS Indianapolis.
Left: March 28, 2012 – High temperature 75°. Right: March 25, 2013 – High temperature 34°.

 

 

APRIL
 
The cool temperatures that were experienced across central Indiana in March continued into the first few days of April, as much of the area remained below 50 degrees through the 3rd. A warm-up commenced on the 4th as upper ridging expanded into the Ohio Valley. Many locations reached 70 degrees for the first time in 2013 on the 6th and 7th, with the warm temperatures continuing until a strong cold front arrived on the 11th. With the exception of Lafayette, all of the main climate observation locations in central Indiana experienced high temperatures above 80 degrees on the 9th and/or 10th ahead of the cold front. For Indianapolis, April 9th was the first 80 degree day since September 13th of last year, a stretch of 207 consecutive days with highs below 80 degrees. This made for the longest consecutive stretch of highs below 80 degrees since 1995-1996 when the first 80 degree day was not recorded until early May.
 
Temperatures tumbled in the wake of the cold frontal passage on the 11th, with highs falling back into the 40s and lower 50s for the 12th and 13th. The cool-down was brief however, as warmer air returned by the afternoon of the 14th. A frontal boundary became nearly stationary across the region, with highs in the 60s and 70s through the 18th. The front finally shifted south and east of central Indiana early on the 19th, bringing a return to cooler weather through the 21st as highs fell back mainly into the upper 40s and lower 50s. Warmer air briefly returned for a couple days before yet another front brought temperatures back down on the 24th and 25th. The last few days of the month saw a gradual warming as high pressure and an upper ridge built into the Ohio Valley. The month ended on a warm note as highs rose into the upper 70s and lower 80s on the 30th.
 
The last hard freeze for much of central Indiana occurred on the mornings of the 2nd and 3rd with lows falling into the lower and middle 20s. Lows for most of the area never fell back below 30 degrees for the rest of the month, although cooler air in the wake of the number of frontal passages in April made for several frosty mornings where lows routinely fell into the 30s. 15 of the 30 days in April saw lows below 40 degrees in Indianapolis, the most since April 2007 which also experienced 15 days with lows below 40.
 
MAY
 
After a warm start to the month, a slow moving upper level low moved across the region with highs falling back into the upper 50s into the 60s from the 4th through the 6th. Temperatures recovered to near to above normal levels in the days that followed, with highs peaking around 80 degrees on the 9th ahead of a cold front. A strong upper trough built across much of the eastern U.S. in wake of the frontal passage, with highs falling back into the upper 50s and lower 60s across much of central Indiana on the 11th through the 13th. The coldest lows were experienced during this time period as well, with many locations across the region experiencing frosty lows in the mid and upper 30s on the mornings of the 12th and 13th, with Lafayette dropping all the way down to 31 degrees on the 13th.
 
Broad high pressure and upper ridging expanded into the Ohio Valley beginning on the 14th, bringing the first extended period of highs in the 80s for the Hoosier state. The passage of a strong cold front on the 22nd brought daytime temperatures back down into the 60s through much of the Memorial Day weekend as cool high pressure tracked through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Much warmer temperatures with highs in the lower and middle 80s returned beginning Memorial Day and continuing through the end of the month as south-southwest flow developed on the back side of the departing high pressure.
 
Temperature Data for Sites in Central Indiana
 
Site
Spring 2013 Temperature
Normal Temperature
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
51.1
52.6
-1.5
Lafayette
48.9
51.5
-2.6
Muncie
51.9
50.9
+1.0
Terre Haute
51.2
53.0
-1.8
Bloomington
51.6
53.0
-1.4
Shelbyville
52.8
52.5
+0.3
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek
50.3
52.8
-2.5
 
 
Spring Extremes Across Central Indiana
 
Site
Warmest Temperature
Coldest Temperature
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
86 on 5/30
16 on 3/21
Lafayette
86 on 5/19
14 on 3/21
Muncie
90 on 5/20
17 on 3/21
Terre Haute
87 on 5/15, 5/29 and 5/30
18 on 3/22
Bloomington
87 on 5/15 and 5/29
16 on 3/22
Shelbyville
89 on 5/15 and 5/30
19 on 3/21 and 3/22
Indianapolis-Eagle Creek
85 on 5/15
16 on 3/21
 
 
Precipitation
 
 
MARCH
 
The only significant rainfall of the month occurred on the 17th-18th when 1 to more than 3 inches fell in southern Indiana. Precipitation along and north of I-70 during this event was much lighter and mostly wintry precipitation and not rainfall. March melted precipitation and rainfall totals ranged from an inch in portions of northern Indiana to more than 5 inches in south central Indiana. Precipitation was below normal to normal in much of the state. The driest areas were in west central Indiana and the wettest in south central Indiana.
 
A largely snow melt lowland river flood occurred along the Wabash River from the 11th through the 17th. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s on the 10th and 11th melted the snow that accumulated in northern Indiana on the 5th and 6th. Rainfall on the 17th and 18th caused lowland flooding along portions of the White, East Fork White and Muscatatuck Rivers in southern Indiana and prolonged the high levels of the Wabash River in southwest Indiana. All river flooding ended by March 24.
 
March was a very snowy month for central and northern Indiana. Monthly snowfall totals ranged from a trace to around an inch along the Ohio River in southwest and south central Indiana to over 20 inches in central Indiana. March 2013 was the snowiest March for portions of central Indiana in more than 100 years. The last time more snow fell in March at Whitestown located in Boone County was during March 1906. For the Indianapolis area, the monthly total of 14.5 inches was the greatest for March since 1924, and the 4th snowiest March overall. The March record snowfall for both locations was set in 1906. That year more than 26 inches of snow occurred. Much of the snow during March fell on the 24th-25th.   The heaviest snow fell in central Indiana, where 4 to 12 inches was measured.   This is the first time for the Indianapolis area that a snowfall of 9 inches has occurred so late in the season. Snowfall records began at Indianapolis on March 1, 1884.
 
 
APRIL
 
Record to near record rainfall for April fell in much of west central and north central Indiana. This included locations north and west of Indianapolis, where monthly rainfall totals ranged from 8 to more than 12 inches. For Indiana overall, there was a rather sharp cutoff for the heavy rainfall during April. Areas south and east of a line from Vincennes to Richmond were relatively dry and received only 3 to 5 inches of rainfall in April. Areas north and west of this line received excessive rainfall ranging from 6 to more than 12 inches. For Indianapolis, 8.59 inches of precipitation occurred in April, making it the second wettest April on record and just 0.01 inches short of April 1893 when 8.60 inches occurred. Serious local flooding occurred in much of the area described above. Some of the worst flooding in central Indiana struck the communities of Tipton, Elwood, Zionsville, Kokomo and Marion.   Flood levels along Wildcat Creek and Sugar Creek in west central Indiana were the highest in 100 years. Other small streams, with period of records only from the 1950s or later, set record levels.
 
Indiana was on the eastern edge of serious Midwest flooding that developed during April. River flooding in central and southern Indiana was the most widespread since the Great Mississippi River flood of May 2011. The worst river flooding was along the Wabash River from Lafayette to Vincennes. Flood crests were the highest in 55 to 70 years for much of this stretch of the river. Significant flooding developed along the White River southwest of Indiana and extended through the Lower Wabash River. Flooding from Centerton to Edwardsport was the highest since June 2008. Flooding along the lower portions of the White and Wabash Rivers was the highest since May 2011. Flooding continued into May along the Wabash River in western Indiana and the White River in southwest Indiana. Little or no flooding occurred in the East Fork White River watershed in eastern and southern Indiana. More information on the river flooding across central Indiana can be found at: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/?n=apr192013flood

 

 4 day precipitation. Click to enlarge.Turkey Run Bridge after height of flood

 Image on left: Four day rainfall ending at 7 AM EDT on April 19 2013. Image on right: Bridge at Turkey Run State Park as flooding is receding in late April.

Image on right courtesy of Turkey Run State Park Facebook page.

 
 
MAY
 
The first four weeks of May were relatively dry for most of Indiana.   Rainfall during this period ranged from around one-half of an inch in northeast sections to over 7 inches in small areas of southwest and southeast Indiana. However, central and southern Indiana dried out slowly in May because rain free periods lasted only 2 to 3 days.  The month of May ended wet. Widespread one to two inches of rainfall occurred on the last day of May. Monthly rainfall totals for May ranged from around an inch or two in northeast Indiana to more than 8 inches in portions of southwest Indiana. Most areas received between 3 and 5 inches of rainfall during May.
 
Flooding along the Wabash River came to a close after five weeks on the 15th. Rainfall of one-half to more than 2 inches from the afternoon of the 8th through the morning of the 11th in central and southern Indiana had prolonged flooding along the Wabash River south of I-74. The White River in southwest Indiana approached flood stage as a result of this rain. River levels along the Wabash remained at normal levels for about a week before rising again. Rainfall of one to more than three inches in northern Indiana from the 25th through the 27th caused bankfull conditions on the Tippecanoe River downstream of Oakdale Dam and along the Wabash from Lafayette to Vincennes. Thunderstorms produced one to two inches of rainfall across the Wabash Valley early on the morning of the 31st, contributing to additional lowland river flooding along the Wabash and lower White Rivers.
 
 
Spring Precipitation Data for Sites in Central Indiana
 
Site
Spring 2013 Precipitation
Normal Precipitation
Diff. From Normal
Indianapolis Int’l Airport
14.05
12.42
+1.63
Lafayette
12.67
10.40
+2.27
Muncie
10.14
11.03
-0.89
Terre Haute
13.38
14.15
-0.77
Bloomington(*)
11.00
13.82
-2.82
Shelbyville
7.11
13.03
-5.92
Indianapolis – Eagle Creek(**)
11.90
12.47
-0.57
 
 
 
Severe Weather
 
 
The cold start to spring led to a slow start to the severe weather season, with no severe weather occurring during the month of March across central Indiana. Strong to severe thunderstorms developed ahead of an approaching cold front on the afternoon and evening of April 10th. The storms that developed during the afternoon primarily produced large hail. In particular, one severe thunderstorm moved from Hendricks County across the north side of the Indianapolis metro area, producing a swath of 1.75 to 2 inch hail from east of Brownsburg through Carmel and Fishers, which caused extensive hail damage to homes and vehicles. After midnight on April 11th, a line of thunderstorms tracked out of Illinois, producing wind damage in locations to the northwest of Indianapolis.
 
Isolated to scattered severe thunderstorms produced large hail during the afternoon and evenings of April 16th and 17th across central Indiana. A particularly intense thunderstorm developed over Lawrence County on the afternoon of the 17th, moving northeast across Brown, Jackson, southeast Marion and western Hancock Counties and producing hail from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The largest hail at 2 inches was reported in Nashville, with golf ball hail occurring from Nashville to Franklin and just east of Whiteland and Greenwood.
 
Much of May was quiet in terms of severe weather across central Indiana. A few severe thunderstorms developed on the evening of the 9th ahead of an approaching low pressure. Two brief EF0 tornadoes took place in Vigo County, the first to the south of Terre Haute and the second near the town of Riley. Several trees were knocked over and with the tornado near Riley, a shed sustained damage. Additional reports of trees blown down and small hail occurred further east across Bartholomew and Decatur Counties. For more information on the May 9 tornadoes in Vigo County, please visit http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=ind&storyid=94530&source=2.
 
 
The largest severe weather event during May occurred during the late evening of the 20th and early morning of the 21st. A line of severe thunderstorms developed to the west of the region ahead of a cold front during the evening. The storms maintained their intensity as they moved across central Indiana after midnight on the 21st, producing wind damage throughout the area. Two EF0 tornadoes occurred along the line of storms to the west of Indianapolis. The first tornado occurred near Roachdale in Putnam County, with the second tornado near North Salem in Hendricks County. Both tornadoes had peak winds of 85 mph. Damage to a barn and home occurred with the tornado near North Salem. Additional damage in southwest Hendricks County near Hazelwood offered evidence of a microburst. For more information on the May 21st tornadoes, please visit http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/?n=may212013tors.
  
Isolated thunderstorms on the afternoon of May 27th developed in the vicinity of a warm front over northern portions of central Indiana. Gusty winds associated with one of the storms as it moved across Madison County took down trees, power poles and power lines. The towns of Elwood, Frankton and Alexandria were impacted.
 
 
Indianapolis Data
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS MARCH 2013 SUMMARY
 
 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs at or above 70°/80°
March 2013
35.5
1.96
14.5
0/0
Normal March
42.2
3.56
2.6
3/0
Difference from Normal
-6.7
-1.60
+11.9
-3/0
 
March 2013 All-Time Ranks:
Temperature: Tied for 14th Coolest
Precipitation: Tied for 30th Driest
Snowfall: 4th Snowiest
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS APRIL 2013 SUMMARY
 
 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs at or above 70°/80°
April 2013
52.5
8.59
Trace
10/2
Normal April
53.0
3.81
0.2
10/2
Difference from Normal
-0.5
+4.78
-0.2
0/0
 
April 2013 All-Time Ranks:
Temperature: Tied for 74th Coolest
Precipitation: 2nd Wettest
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS MAY 2013 SUMMARY
 
 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs at or above 70°/80°
May 2013
65.4
3.50
0.0
20/10
Normal May
62.7
5.05
Trace
20/8
Difference from Normal
+2.7
-1.55
0.0
0/2
 
May 2013 All-Time Ranks:
Temperature: 34th Warmest
Precipitation: 60th Driest
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS SPRING 2013 SUMMARY
 
 
Average Temperature
Total Precipitation
Total Snowfall
Highs at or above 70°/80°
Spring 2013
51.1
14.05
14.5
30/12
Normal Spring
52.6
12.42
2.8
33/10
Difference from Normal
-1.5
+1.63
+11.7
-3/2
 
Spring 2013 All-Time Ranks
Temperature: 49th Coolest
Precipitation: 37th Wettest
Snowfall: 4th Snowiest
 
 
 
 
Summer 2013 Outlook for Central Indiana
 
The official outlook for the 2013 summer season (June-August) from the Climate Prediction Center, indicates a slightly greater chance of above normal temperatures across central Indiana. At Indianapolis, the average temperature for the summer season is 73.9 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 11.93”.
 
 
 
 
Data prepared by the NWS Indianapolis Climate Team

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



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