2012 weather: Anything but normalAs far as weather goes, 2012 was anything but normal. The year started off with almost no snow, which turned into an early spring. But early summer rains brought heavy floods to many parts of the county, only to be followed by drought.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
As far as weather goes, 2012 was anything but normal. The year started off with almost no snow, which turned into an early spring. But early summer rains brought heavy floods to many parts of the county, only to be followed by drought.
Here are some of Goodhue County’s biggest weather-related events from the past year.
Non-winter temps in January and February
January and February 2012 left winter-lovers disappointed. For more than half the days in January, temps soared above freezing, topping out at a very spring-like 55 degrees mid-month. February didn’t do much better, with an average daily temperature about eight degrees higher than the average 20 degrees.
With warm temps, the little bit of snow that did fall certainly didn’t last long. Only about seven inches of snow hit the ground during 2012’s first two months. That’s only about half of what a typical Minnesota winter month sees.
The lack of snow caused Red Wing’s Environmental Learning Center to change some of its winter programming, and left the Cannon Valley Trail short on skiers.
“This winter overall has been very difficult because there’s not enough snow to cross-country ski but there’s enough snow to cause problems for people with bikes,” Cannon Valley Trail manager Scott Roepke said last February.
Early spring affected crops
March brought unseasonably warm temps; the month of 2012 boasted an average daily high of nearly 60 degrees and even reached a downright summer temperature of 81 degrees mid-month.
The rising mercury also brought on the worries of area farmers, who saw their crops sprouting nearly a month earlier than normal. Many area grape farmers said their vines began sprouting much earlier than normal.
“It was unbelievable, smashed all the records,” John Maloney, owner of Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, said last March.
Grain farmers were also able to give their crops a head start. In March, soil temperatures at the 2-inch depth were averaging about 55 degrees, something farmers generally don’t see until May 1. That allowed farmers to begin fertilizing and planting earlier than normal as well.
June brought heavy floods
Torrential rains pounded the Cannon Falls area in mid-June, causing the Cannon River to overrun its banks. More than eight inches of rain fell in the city in just a few hours. The water damaged houses and washed out roads throughout western Goodhue County. High winds also knocked down trees and power lines and damaged property.
The Cannon Valley Trail was heavily damaged by washouts and downed trees. Trail manager Scott Roepke estimated the damage at about $200,000. Parts of the trail were closed for much of the summer.
Welch also got in on the action, with nearly 6.5 inches of rain hitting the ground there. Flash flooding caused a bus to end up in the ditch as it left Treasure Island Resort & Casino. No one was hurt.
Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency in eight counties in Minnesota — including Goodhue — following the June storms.
Drought continued into summer, caused fall fires
The June rains were replaced with scorching hot temps in July. During the first week of the month, temps reached above 94 degrees nearly every day. In addition, rain refused to fall for the first two weeks.
That drought continued to take its toll into fall, causing wildfires throughout the Midwest.
In Goodhue County, less than a half an inch of rain fell during the entire month of September, putting local fire departments on alert.
“It’s super dry out there,” Goodhue Fire Chief Mike Kehran said in October.
The Goodhue Fire Department responded to three grass fires in one week in September, an unusually high number for so early in the season, Kehran said.
The overall dry conditions prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin to issue a burning ban for the entire county. Red Wing Fire Marshal Andy Speltz also issued a ban on all recreational fires in Red Wing.
“A little spark or a little something can start a big fire,” Red Wing Fire Chief Tom Schneider said in October.
What does 2013 hold?
November and December 2012 were fairly normal months. November saw cool, gray and windy days, and December was ushered in with a storm that dumped nearly 10 inches of snow in the region.
It seems, then, that Goodhue County’s weather is back on track. What’s more, Farmers’ Almanac predicts that the first two months of the new year will bring plenty cold, snow and blizzards for the Midwest.
But if 2012 is anything to go by, there’s no telling what 2013 could bring.