Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Looking Back

A brief recap of 2011 is all that is needed for a year which didn't feature many memorable events for weather in Howard County.  While this was a year for extreme weather for many portions of the United States, Kokomo & Howard County pretty such sat out for all but one. 

Ground Hog Day Blizzard 2011

After seeing the big snow storms hitting the east coast, it was nice for us to be in the bullseye for once.  The talk on the Internet between weather hobbyists began much earlier than any of the public forecast discussions from the National Weather Service or broadcast media.

I hinted at the snow event 9 days in advance and started sharing more detailed forecasts 6 days in advance.

Forecast models had latched on rather early and some of the snow accumulations were very impressive to beyond believable.  Some had 2+ feet of snow across our area.  The timing was particularity troublesome for such a significant storm.  It was to begin Monday evening and on Saturday, the public was still generally unaware a potentially historic snow storm was a little more than 48 hours away.

Synoptically this storm had a remakable resenbence to the Valentines Day Storm of 2007.  That should still be fresh enough in most peoples minds to know how bad things got around the area.  

I truly felt many would be unprepared including some vital services so for the first time, I contact Howard County Emergency Management's Director and filled him in on what I was thinking.  We went back and forth and I know he passed along my forecast to the Howard County Highway Department.

By Sunday morning, the National Weather Service was on board with the idea of a significant weather event and began alerting the public.  Broadcast media also followed suit.  Besides significant snow amounts, a likely more devastating ice storm event loomed for areas south of a line from Muncie to Indianapolis to Terra Haute.

In the end, warm air and a dry slot staved off the ice storm and locally, we were hammered with sleet.  In fact three inches of it fell across the county.  A bit north however they were pummeled.  Chicago had the infamous shots of Lake Shore Drive being shut down with stranded cars and lake effect snow produced three feet in South Bend.

I did nail the prediction of three snow days for county schools but busted on my call of 6-10 inches of snow with 1-2 inches of sleet. 

We also did receive the constellation prize on the following Saturday when we received our biggest snow of the season when 6 inches fell in a very peaceful storm.

Winter 2010-2011 Ends Early

Another potent storm system was forecast for the 25th of February.  I had forecast 4-7 inches thinking my 7 could be on the low side.  The National Weather Service had us for 6 inches.  However dry air again crept in and brought the totals down.  I recorded 4 inches and that was the last measurable snow for the season.  A couple more trace events occurred leaving us with a season total of 34.3 inches and 5 snow days for the county schools.

Severe Weather Season Starts Early

No sooner had winter breathed it's last gasp of (dry) air did severe weather season begin on February 26th.  It did not amount to anything significant locally and March which followed was rather boring.  It wasn't until April when severe weather season really kicked in.

While tornadoes and severe weather made headlines across the state with a record with 72 confirmed tornadoes, the closes any came were Cass and Grant Counties which had two each.

Nationally, there was a late start but then several significant outbreaks which caused an unthinkable about of tornado related deaths.  I mention it because with spotters, chasers, sophisticated radar, and advanced early warning systems, you would think people would be in shelters when storms hit.

While many of the deaths can be attributed to unusually violent tornadoes hitting populated areas, many still didn't head the warnings or even pay attention to the watches issued hours in advance.  Regular readers of my blog know I preach being alert, situational awareness, and to think about what to do and were to go when severe weather happens.  We don't always have the luxury of being home or having a basement when severe weather strikes.

A Warm Summer

Summer started early with 90 degree readings by the middle of May.  Weather became rather boring once summer arrived.  About the only thing weather fanatics could do besides lament the boredom with weather was to see if we could break a record or hit the century mark.

Kokomo finally hit 100 degrees on July 21st.  It had been more than ten years since the last 100 degree reading.

Indianapolis broke the old record for consecutive 90 degree days.  A new record of 23 days in a row was set between July 17th and August 8th.  Summer was warm overall and while we didn't see below normal precipitation, much of Indiana did.

 For the year, pretty much everything east of the Rockies saw above normal above average temperatures. 

The summer months of June, July, & August were dry but the other months have made up for it pushing us well above normal for year.

Fall was pretty quiet on the weather front too.  So quiet I didn't write much about it.

The Start of Winter

I did put out my Composite Winter Outlook for 2011-2012 on November 1st.  Like most, I went with a cold and snow start for December.  It has been anything but.  While the precipitation was there, the cold has never materialized.

There is  pretty good bet too that the long term patter stays warm for January too.  The first part of shows continued warmth for the most part.  A short term cold show will user in the 2012 though.

Social Media

If you have not done so already, I want to encourage you to Like Kokomo Weather on Facebook.  While I continue to use the blog for bigger events, short term musings usually end up there or on Twitter where I can banter in 140 characters or less.

Acknowledgements & Friends

No doubt there are others who share my passion for the weather.  Locally I speak often with a handful of users and want to share their websites with you.

765 Weather - Over in Lafayette, they are blessed with Tim and his vast knowledge of weather history.  About any kind of weather phenomenon, Tim can crunch the numbers and tell you the extremes or averages for dates, years, seasons, or storms.  I encourage you to check out his blog from time to time.

Indiana Tornadoes - The title should give away the focus of Ryan's blog.  He keeps track of tornado events in Indiana plus other weather facts. 

(Thank goodness for Tim and Ryan and their memory for weather.  I am blessed with their knowledge often.)

Maurice Shammel - is a trained meteorologist in Evansville and shared his deep knowledge of the weather with the Tri-State area and Indiana.  Not enough can be said about his invaluable expertise.

IndyWX - Bill also is a regular forecaster for this area of Indiana.  Always enjoy reading his take on the weather and evolving patterns.

About Me

For those who don't know, I work full time in K-12 education in Information Technology, am active in Howard County EMA in communications, am a licensed amateur radio operator beginning in 1975, and work part time professionally in photography.  If I'm not on the sideline of a sporting event, I'm usually somewhere at a marching band or winter guard event.

I also enjoy the weather even though I have no formal training, I can do a good job with short term forecasting and focus on Kokomo and Howard County.  You may have already guess but I am not a fan of boring weather.  While some find it odd, at 50 years old, I still love snow and lots of it too. I also maintain a weather station at my home and that is where the updates on the main webpage some originate from. 

Most importantly, thanks for being a visitor to Kokomo-Weather. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A rather quiet month for winter.  Also quite warm.  The good news is the patter looks to be changing for the better (if you are a winter lover).