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2011: The Year in Weather

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2011: The Year in Weather

When it comes to weather, 2011 has certainly been an intense year. We started the year with heavy snow pounding much of the U.S. and Canada, including the now-infamous blizzard that stranded hundreds of motorists on Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive for several hours. From there, things just got wilder. We saw an exceptionally active tornado season, with twisters ripping through the Southeast and Midwest, and, most notably, devastating the community of Joplin, Missouri. Then, all of that snow we’d seen earlier in the season, coupled with a very wet spring, overflowed the the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in what has been described as the worst flooding event the nation had seen since 1993.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Oklahoma, and other south-central states, temperatures rose to record highs, and the rain simply refused to fall. Ongoing drought conditions throughout the summer caused crops to wither in the ground, wildfires to spring up, and many across the region to pray for relief. Toward the end of the summer, Hurricane Irene tore along the East Coast, laying waste to insulated inland areas that had once seemed impervious to tropical storms. Then, as the year draws to a close, a freak Halloween weekend snowstorm blanketed much of the Northeast, leaving many New Englanders without power for as much as a week, followed up by a white Thanksgiving for many less than a month later.

We asked readers to share their memories of the past year’s weather. Here’s what they said:

– “My brother was evacuated from his condo on the water during Hurricane Irene and came to stay with me. During the storm, my neighbors tree came down, missing the room my brother was staying in by inches! He teased me, saying he’d have been safer in his second story condo than he was on my one story house!”

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– “My least favorite memory: February 2011 we saw -11 (degrees F) in Las Cruces, NM; icy roads, burst water pipes and lots of dead landscaping. This is the desert just 50 miles north of the Mexico border. Not supposed to get that cold here.”

“Worst drought in the Texas Panhandle that I have ever seen. Fires all over, extremely high winds, brown yards and poor/no wheat crops. We finally got 3/4 inch of rain last week and that’s the most we’ve seen since last year!”

“For our family there were two significant weather related issues this year: The excruciating summer in central Texas was one for the record books! I was nine months pregnant in August and I think that made the drought and heat that much worse. The resulting fires drove many of us from our homes. We also have a lot of family in Joplin Mo. where a devastating tornado destroyed so much and so many lives were lost. We continue to pray for those that lost everything and count our blessings that our immediate family and their homes were all spared by both counts. It is times like these that show the true character of a community; I am thankful and proud to be part of ours.”

“I retired this year. My daughter and I bought baby chickens in April so we could start having fresh eggs. Oklahoma had such a heat wave this year, that by the time I retired in July we were watering the chickens several times a day. We bought ducks also so they require a lot of water. We watered the pen several times a day. The ducks would run through the water stream like children playing, sometimes they would hop in there pool while we were refreshing the water or stand with their heads up and drink the water from the water hose. We eventually bought a mister and put in the yard which chickens and ducks both enjoyed. We surprised ourselves, because we did not lose a chicken but some of our friends did lose chickens to the heat. They are now all laying and it has turned to cold weather.”

“NW Arkansas has had some weird weather in 2011. First we had 24 inches (yes, that was 2 feet) of snow, then we had massive rainfall (monsoon season?) and major flooding, and then the heat sucked everything dry with 100+ degrees for too long. I am sincerely hoping that this fall is nicer to us because the other three seasons were so horrible. Oh and don’t forget those terrible tornadoes in Arkansas and SW Missouri. May God bless all the people that went through all these horrible situations.”

“The tornadoes/straight winds that went through Battle Creek MI. I’m about fifteen miles south of where it hit, but it sounded like a dozen locomotives going through! I will never forget that day.”

“I saw 3 tornadoes in one night. I was visiting friends in Cleveland, Tennessee, when the giant tornado came through. It passed just to the west of us and we could see it. We were all safe thankfully, although sadly others died. I decided to try to get home and was driving back to Dayton and drove right up to another tornado that had just crossed through the small community on the way. I continued on home and, just as I got home, a third encounter was waiting in my neighborhood. The funnel cloud had come down on the corner from my home but never damaged anything of mine except a few tree limbs. It passed by just before I drove up to it. In hindsight, I should have never left to drive home. However, I am so thankful I was spared.”

“I will never, ever forget watching the F4 tornado going by, about a half a mile from my home, through Ringgold, Georgia, on April 27th, 2011. We had the TV on the local news, and I remember them saying “Something bad is happening in Ringgold.” It certainly was. As the tornado came through, I will never forget out eerily quiet it was where we were. It was almost graceful in the way it was twirling through our town. What was left in its wake was anything but graceful. 6+ months later, Ringgold has made great progress in cleaning up and getting things close to back to the way they were, but none of us will ever be the same.”

“We got about a foot of rain in our basement and managed to clean it up. However, my mom got three feet and lost just about everything, including her wedding gown and homemade blankets, Christmas decorations, etc. I kept telling her it’s not the material things that matter—the event brought us even closer as we sifted through the damaged items and told stories about them, reminiscing and connecting to a life not too long ago.”

– “The past TWO winters in Virginia Beach, I did the Snoopy dance for snow and, boy, did we get some! I love snow. It makes the world silent and beautifully peaceful. I put on 3 or 4 layers of clothes and hiked all around the neighborhood and local park. My Nordic roots blossom in the snow!”

“My least favorite was during Hurricane Irene, I was sitting down at my dining room table and inches from my sliding glass doors a tree came down on my house. I am so very lucky that it didn’t come through the door or I might not be here sharing this with you all today. On the other hand, during the freak October snowstorm we were one of the lucky ones that never lost power. So we were able to just enjoy the beautiful day.”

– “My worst memory of weather this year was the tornadoes that ripped through our communities here in Houston, Oklahoma, and Smithville, MS. They destroyed everything in site. The day will forever be etched in my memory. Familiar landmarks are no longer with us. Many families are still trying to rebuild their homes, their lives and and struggling with loss of loved ones. Many animals were never found. In a blink of an eye your world can change. It is out of our control But throughout of all this one thing stays in my mind. We will go on. A story came out in the local paper a few weeks after the tornadoes about a family that lost both of their homes. After the tornado the husband and grandfather to this family passed away. So much tragedy. However, in the fridge were sunflower seeds saved from each year. When the tornado came it must have opened the fridge because where the old home site was is a field of sunflowers! Life will prevail, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us!”

“This past summer in Quechee, Vt. to see the power of the rivers as they took houses, cattle , almost our covered bridge down the river. People joined together and helped each other. Wonderful spirit comes forth in disaster.”

What do you remember most from this year’s weather? Share your memories below!

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1 A. Williams { 12.24.11 at 1:16 pm }

For more the most memorable weather event would have to be the multivortex F5 tornado that tore through the middle of Joplin, MO. It’s amazing how well we are recovering and how quickly many of our businesses rebuilt. For everyone that volunteered their time to assist the families that lost everything, Thank You.

2 Ginger { 12.02.11 at 9:39 pm }

This has been the third wettest year ever in our area…the wettest in my lifetime. Our backyard has been a duck pond numerous times this year, the worst being this past week when our side yard was flooded almost entirely. I sure hope 2012 is drier!

3 Joshua Steiner { 12.02.11 at 5:39 pm }

We’ve had the craziest weather I’ve ever seen in Northwest Ohio. First, in Antwerp, we had a big sleet and snowstorm with blizzard conditions back in February. Then we had so much snow the rest of February, that it was our snowiest February on record. By March, April, and May, we had record rainfall amounts with the wettest spring on record here. By May, we had plenty of rainfall and severe weather, with our second rainiest month on record. Then over the summer, we had incredible heat and humidity which lasted for days on end, causing us to have our 4th hottest summer on record, and our hottest month and July on record, with record amounts of 90+ degree days. Then, by September and October, we had so much rainfall that our drought was erased from the summer, with rainfall over 7 inches. By November, we had our second wettest November on record with over 6 inches of rain falling. Plus, by the end of the month, we had our first snowstorm, with more snow in one day, than we’ve seen in the last four years in November, amounting to 4.4 inches. This was one crazy year. I wonder what December will bring?

4 Don Mathis { 12.02.11 at 4:23 am }

Although we had a hot dry summer here in No. Kentucky, luckly we missed most of the really distructive weather. My heart and prayers go out to all those who lost so much, family or friends to all the bad weather we had this year. Hopfully the comming year will bring us all peace and better things to come.

5 Lily { 11.30.11 at 11:35 pm }

I’ll never forget watching videos of a tornado ripping through my hometown of Springfield, MA and causing so much destruction. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that could happen there! Then the two feet of snow that was dumped on us here in southwest New Hampshire in just one snowstorm …. in OCTOBER! Thankfully we didn’t lose power, but many others did.

6 Lisa { 11.30.11 at 7:19 pm }

We were driving home from Florida on New Year’s Day 2011 and while driving through Illinois toward home, we listened to a local St. Louis radio station reporting tornado damage in Fenton, MO where we live. It struck less than 1/2 mile from our home. I’ve lived in Missouri for 51 years and never before witnessed tornado damage in January.

7 Diana from CNY { 11.30.11 at 6:16 pm }

Tropical Storm Lee was our bugaboo, coming so close on the heels of Hurricane Irene there was no where for water to go….record flooding here in central/Southern Tier New York State.

8 maria crafton { 11.30.11 at 5:27 pm }

Incredible weather we had in Texas. Houston which is known for its rainy days didn’t see a drop for months! Horrible fires and heat all across Texas, but what stands in my mind the most is one day when we had just had a spattering of rain, and when I looked out I saw and took pictures of the most beautiful double rainbow I could ever witness, such live and deep colors, but a promise of what?

9 winston { 11.30.11 at 3:51 pm }

i am from st lucia in the caribbean we had heavy rain this year but the hurricane season was not as bad as last year when tomas devastated the entire island. Thank god we were safe this year


10 wavelin { 11.30.11 at 1:33 pm }

being in chiago Lake Shore drive was closed down after6 feet of snow fell all of the city was closed my daughter and grandaughter saw the1st big snow…it was ok but after4 days people became house bound and just had to come out…spring and summer came late and then we got a7day heat wave ….some year

11 Jean Middleton { 11.30.11 at 11:13 am }


12 Richard Jordan { 11.30.11 at 11:07 am }

I am the Fire Chief in a rural community. I and my team have seen devastation many times over the years. This year however, the damage in the towns of Cordova, Hakleburg, Lake Martin, Tuscaloosa and many others was overwhelming. Our county association helped in the recovery of Cordova Fire Department and my work place helped the town of Hakleburg. I visited both places. The devastation was more than anyone could imagine. The power of nature is awesome. Even today the scars are there to see. Recovery will be long and hard. Our prayers go out to all affected. Our eye to the weather must be constant and diligent.

13 Joyce Byers { 11.30.11 at 10:49 am }

This year has been the deadliest for the state of Alabama. Everyone is talking about Joplin Mo. and it was bad. However the state of Alabama seen it share of tornados, and there were several towns that was almost completely wiped off the map. The one in Tuscaloosa that killed around 160 people. There are 2 small towns less than 30 miles from where I live was completely destroyed and many people killed. But by the Grace of God, we are coming back!

14 Jen { 11.30.11 at 9:12 am }

Seems like it was a weird year for most folks. We lost power for ten days after the October storm; my hometown area in Massachusetts was devastated by a tornado, which is so very rare in that part of the country. Here’s hoping 2012 is a heck of a lot more ordinary!

15 Richard Williams { 11.30.11 at 9:03 am }

I remember when several tornadoes passed through Greene County Tennessee, and several people were killed. So many families lost their homes and all their memories in a matter of minutes. One of the people that were killed was a good friends uncle.

16 GainEnergy { 11.29.11 at 7:07 pm }

I am sending a lot of positive energy throughout to those people who experienced bad weather in 2011. Where I am, we had a lot of snow, however yet, nothing compared to those people who experienced real bad weather. I enjoyed your post regardless.

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