Sunday, January 31, 2010

2009 Chippewa Valley Climate Report

Well, I finally got around to sorting through my 2009 temperature and climate records to make my annual climate report. I have to admit that this is the latest I have ever come out with it, but oh well, at least it is still January (as I write this!!!) Enjoy!

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2009 started out cold. In fact, to call it cold would probably be a major understatement! As the arctic air settled in and the winds blew, the mercury effortlessly plummeted in January of 2009. The climax of the cold spell occurred on January 14th and 15th with lows that smashed all my records. Personally, on the morning of January 16th, I recorded a low of -25.8, but nearby EauClaire recorded -26 with a windchill of -32. Just a bit north, in Rice Lake, the mercury fell even farther to -29 with a windchill of -35. On the previous morning, winchills had dropped to -56 in western Minnesota with -40 to -45 windchills at the Twin Cities. Locally, the air temperature that morning had been -23.6. With 17 subzero lows. January 2009 accepted the prestigious prize for the coldest month ever on my records, and the only month with a subzero average low! (-1.3) The coldest high of the year also occurred on January 15th with a temperature of -3.5.

February roared in with a little more class. A definite improvement over January, February set its sights on the elimination of all the snow. With 45 degrees, a light rain, and a 52 mph wind, in 2 days, the snow was mostly gone, and HUGE lakes of water remained where it had been. That was only a teaser of spring however, as more snow and subzero lows rolled in a week later.

March, although still a little cool, was fairly normal with temperatures for the month ranging from a minus 7 degree low on March 1st, to a 65 degree high on March 16th. Precipitation was minimal with only about an inch and a half of rain throughout the month. In North Dakota however, heavy rains and melting snow caused the notorius Red River to back up and flood to record heights. On March 28th at Fargo, the river crested some 22 feet above flood stage for a new record height of 40.8 feet!

April in the Chippewa Valley was not very impressive. Except for a 4 inch slushy snow during the first week, most of the precipitation was rain and all of it fell on the weekends, which helped some! There was one impressive record-breaking spike to 88 degrees on April 24th, but the average high for the month was only 59. The average low of 35 for the month was also the third coldest on my records for Aprils past.

May was fairly normal temperature-wise, but once again fell a little short on the precipitation end. The big spike for May came on the 20th of the month with 90 degrees and a 45 mph gale that blew dust and sand for miles across most of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The last spring frost for 2009 ocurred on May 16th and was a little late by my records.

For 2009, June was the most consistently warm month of the entire year. On my records, summer 2009 lasted from June 12th through June 27th, including the warmest spike of the entire year, 98.8 on June 23rd. By the 30th of the month however, the high was back down to 60. It may have been a warm month for the likes of 2009, but overall the lows were cold, second only to 2004 for the coldest June lows, though they managed to hold over 45 after June 5th.

Hands down, July 2009 was the coldest July on my records. I only recorded one daytime high over 90 degrees and it was the only July with an average low of less than 60! With monthly averages of 78.7 / 56.6, July 2009 was much more reminiscent of September than July. Also, by the end of July, we had a rainfall deficit for the year of around 8 inches, although with the cool conditions, the drought was less evident than in some years.

August arrived, and everyone hoped that the cold summer pattern would finally break. Unfortunately, the pattern continued and August too was below normal, although a little warmer than July had been. The average high for August was 80.2, and was only the 3rd coldest on my records!! The average low however, at 57.8, was second only to August 2004 for the lack of heat. August was also quite wet, delivering last-minute and much-needed moisture to the parched fields. Nearly 6 inches of rain fell during the course of the month.

Once again, as is often the case with a year that has a cold summer, September was the make-up month. Attempting to appease those who hate cold summers, September delivered a healthy string of warm sunny days which lasted until September 28th! With an average high of 78.4, it was easily the second-warmest September on my records, second once again to 2004. Basically the same temperature as July had been, September's heat helped offset an otherwise cold growing season. Of course all good things eventually must come to an end. Low temperatures rudely crashed down to 32 degrees on September 29th, for an unanticipated but fairly normal first frost date.

October blew into the Chippewa Valley with a cold north wind, immediately shattering all hopes of a prolonged warm spell. With gray skies and rain, it felt more like November than October. Then, on October 12th, 2.5 inches of snow fell blanketing the recently frozen greenery. St. Paul MN received 4.2 inches, the earliest snowfall of greater than 2 inches since 1977! Our own 1938 earliest-significant-snowfall record was smashed on October 23rd with another 2.5 inches. True to the 2009 pattern, and with an average high of only 50.5, October ended as the coldest on my records.

After such a brutal October, everyone expected a fearsome November. Not to be outdone however, 2009 did an about-face and rolled warmer temperatures back into the region. No snow fell at all during November, and the average highs held just over 50 degrees. While 2001 gets to keep the prize for the warmest November, 2009 was definitely first runner-up!!

December rolled into the Chippewa Valley, and in true 2009 fashion, delivered the worst blizzard of the decade to the upper midwest. The final snowfall total on December 9th was measured at 13.1 inches in Eau Claire. Some areas received even more, and I heard an unconfirmed rumor that 15 foot drifts were reported in Des Moines Iowa! (Don't take that as gospel truth, as I never confirmed it) The next major storm for December rolled in on Christmas Eve with an initial 3 inches of snow, then nearly 4 tenths of an inch of rain and freezing rain that lasted through Christmas Day. That was of course followed by another inch and a half of snow, "just to make it more slippery!!" Once again on the cold end of the scale, December finished 3rd on the highs and 4th on the lows with the coldest Decembers on my records.

2009 will definitely be remembered as the year of the cold summer. Overall, the entire year was warmer than 2008, but 2008 had the warmer summer of the two. Officially, despite all its cold records, 2009 finishes only second coldest on my records- to 2008 which remains the coldest year.

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So now you ask, what about the new decade? What about 2010? Judging from my records and the past 2 cold years, I believe we are heading into an upswing in the Chippewa Valley in 2010. It won't be as impressive as 2006 perhaps, but I expect an overall recovery of about 3 degrees in 2010. February will be warmer than January. March might muddle around, but April should be warm. The summer should be reasonably normal and July will be hot. Expect a normal decline to Fall. Fall 2010 will be cool, but December should be mild.

2009 Records

Coldest January Highs and Lows

Coldest July Highs and Lows

Coldest October Highs

Fewest Lows Above 50: 113

Tie With 2004 for Fewest Lows Above 70: 2

2 Coldest Temperatures on my records: -23.6, -25.8

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Overall Record Chart 2009

Warmest High 2006 July 31 +102.7

Coldest High 2007 February 4 -6.2

Warmest Low 1999 July 4 +80

Coldest Low 2009 January 15 -25.8

Warmest Year- Highs 2006

Warmest Year- Lows 1999

Coldest Year- Highs 2008

Coldest Year- Lows 2008

Warmest Overall Year 2006

Coldest Overall Year 2008

2008 Climate Report Available Here

Thanks for reading!!
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Anonymous said...

You very talented Joel! Love the picture of the Lily pads! You make the weather come alive.

JWcountryphoto said...

Haha thanks!