Midwest Weekly Highlights - March 1-10, 2009
Wintry Beginning, A Wild End
Average daily temperatures ranged from 1°F to 6°F below normal from northern Minnesota eastward across northern lower Michigan (Figure 1). Temperatures were well above normal in the southern two thirds of the region, with a band of +4°F to +6°F departures from southwestern Missouri across the southern half of Illinois and much of Indiana.
Most of the Midwest received precipitation this week, but far northern and southern portions were on the short end (Figure 2) Precipitation was 200 to more than 400 percent of normal in a wide band across the central Midwest, dropping off to 25 to 50 percent of normal in the Ohio Valley and from southern Minnesota into northern Wisconsin. Most of the precipitation this week missed the dry areas of the upper Midwest, and the March 9 U.S. Drought Monitor showed no change in the drought status in the upper Midwest (Figure 3).
Colder than normal weather and additional snow this week in the upper Midwest maintained a deep snow cover from northern Minnesota eastward into Michigan. Snow depths ranged from 12 to 20 inches in Minnesota to more than 24 inches in the Michigan U. P. (Figure 4).
Quick Warm up, Then Storms
Thunderstorms erupted in northern Missouri on March 6 along a cold front pressing ito the Midwest, with a number of severe storms dropping hail from 1.00 to 1.25 inches in diameter. Scattered severe storms occurred again on March 7 along the cold front which extended from the Rockies eastward through central Indiana and northern Ohio (Figure 10).
Severe storms were more numerous on March 8 from western Missouri to western Ohio as an intense low pressure system developed along the frontal system in eastern Kansas. This was associated with a strong upper level wave moving out of the central Rockies. Much of the central Midwest was in a Moderate Risk for severe weather on March 8. When the day was over, there were 25 reports of tornadoes and numerous wind and hail reports. One EF1 tornado was confirmed in southeastern Missouri, EF1 and EF2 tornadoes were confirmed in Wayne County, IL, and an EF1 tornado was confirmed in Webster County in western Kentucky. Descriptions of these tornadoes and damage photos can be seen at the NWS Paducah, KY web site.
In Indiana, tornadoes were reported in or near Milan (Ripley County), Odon (Daviess County), Fayetteville, Oaktown (Knox County), and Columbia City (Whitely County). In Milan, at least one roof was ripped off a house and there was extensive damage done to power lines along the tornado’s path. In Odon, a family was lucky to survive after their mobile home was severely damaged by the tornado. A local church also suffered minor damage. At least three families ended up in the hospital after a tornado destroyed their homes in Fayetteville. One of the houses was damaged when a school bus was picked up and tossed into it by the strong winds. Debris from the Fayetteville tornado was found in Columbus, two counties and more than 45 miles away. Two tornadoes were confirmed in northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio. An EF1 tornado was confirmed in Whitely County, IN near Columbia City. This tornado destroyed three homes and damaged 20 others. An EF0 tornado was also confirmed in Defiance County, OH. No injuries or fatalities occurred with either of these storms. For more detailed information on storm damage and photos of the actual tornadoes, visit the NWS North Webster, IN web site.
Non-thunderstorm winds associated with the strengthening low pressure system lashed the Midwest as the low departed the region. Westerly winds were sustained from 30 to 40 mph with gusts from 50 to 65 mph across parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. The winds along with the earlier thunderstorms resulted in thousands of power outages from Missouri to Indiana.
Heavy Rain and Snow
The heavy rain in Iowa resulted in widespread minor to moderate flooding, with a few locations reporting major flooding. The Iowa River was pouring through a levee break in Wapello, covering a county road and threatening to flood thousands of acres along the river. The heavy precipitation also resulted in rivers and streams going out of their banks in northern Illinois.
Blizzard Conditions, Record Warmth, More Heavy Rain, and Flooding
To the south of the wintry weather heavy rain fell once again across eastern Iowa, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, Michigan, and northern Ohio. The heaviest rain from Missouri to Illinois fell overnight March 9 into early March 10 (Figure 16). The heavy shifted east during the day on March 10, soaking northern Indiana, southeastern Michigan, and northern Ohio. Rainfall amounts from north-central Indiana into northwestern Ohio ranged from 2.50 to more than 3.00 inches (Figure 17).
As the strong low pressure system moved across the northern Great Lakes late on March 10 strong west to northwest winds developed across Wisconsin and upper Michigan (Figure 18). Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph gusted to between 50 and 60 mph. The strongest gusts occurred along the shores of Lake Superior and along the Keewanaw Peninsula (Keewanaw County), with a 70 mph gust recorded at Grand Marais, MN (Cook County).
Runoff from the heavy rain during the last four days of this period resulted in flooding on many rivers and streams from Missouri and Iowa eastward southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana, western Michigan, and northern Ohio. By late on March 10 a flood warning was in effect for the Mississippi river from Canton, MO south to Chester, IL (Figure 19). Major flooding was occurring on the upper Illinois River (Figure 20), and flood warnings were in effect downstream from La Grange to Hardin, IL (Figure 21). Flooding was occurring on a number of rivers in Indiana, including the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers (Figure 22). In White County, Diamond Point and Bluewater developments, along with the Lake Arthur Mobile Home Park, were evacuated because of the threat for major flooding. Residents of more than 55 homes were being put in a shelter at the First Christian Church in Remington. In Fort Wayne (Allen County), citizens were out in full force to help local officials create sandbag and clay walls and install pumps on the evening of March 10th to prevent flooding in neighborhoods near the river.
A number of rivers in western Michigan were above flood stage at the end of the week. The St. Joseph River in Kalamazoo (Kalamazoo County) was out of its banks and several roads were closed due to flooding, including part of the I-94 business loop. The Blanchard River in northwestern Ohio was also in flood, rising at the rate of one inch per hour. Residents of Findlay, OH (Hancock County) were filling sandbags to help keep floodwaters out of the downtown area.