With 2011 just a memory, now seems like a good time to look back over the past year in weather. We predicted that 2011 would be a wild one, and that certainly came to pass. The past year’s weather was notable not just for its intensity, but also for the sheer number of different kinds of extreme weather we experienced.
The year started off with heavy snow, including a Groundhog Day blizzard that grounded thousands of airplanes, caused billions of dollars worth of damage, and left hundreds of motorists stranded on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive for hours in the freezing cold.
This wild winter then morphed into a very wet spring — just as we predicted — with numerous storms. We called for a very active tornado season, and that’s exactly what we got, with April bringing the nation’s worst tornado outbreak since 1974, and the single most deadly tornado in more than 60 years hitting Joplin Missouri in May.
All of that snow and storm water led to widespread flooding along the Mississippi River. The past year ranks alongside 1927 and 1993 as one of the worst of the past 100 years.
Unfortunately, while parts of the country were inundated with more water than they could handle, other areas experienced extreme drought conditions, which led to the widespread loss of crops and livestock, and to a series of wildfires that forced many from their homes.
As the year wound to a close, we saw the East Coast — and even inland areas such as Connecticut and Vermont — get battered by Hurricane Irene, a Halloween snow storm that crippled parts of the Mid Atlantic states and Southern New England, and a winter that has so far been unseasonably warm and mild.
What will the coming year bring? The La Niña that was partly responsible for last year’s wild weather is back. We’re expecting a very wet winter for many parts of the country, as well as another highly active tornado season.
Read our winter outlook to see what we’re predicting for your area.