Midwest Overview - January 2013
January precipitation was near normal in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio and well above normal in the other Midwest states. Precipitation ranged from about 140% of normal to about 200% of normal in the other six states
(Figure 1). Indiana and Illinois were the wettest states with twice their normal precipitation totals for the month. A large part of January's precipitation fell in the last few days of the month when a large portion of the region received from 1" to 3" (Figure 2). Snowfall for January was below normal for most of the Midwest. Upper Michigan, northeast Wisconsin, and northwest Minnesota were the only areas with above normal snowfall for the month
Another warm start to the Year
2013 got off to a warmer than normal start with temperatures ranging from near normal in Minnesota to 3°F above normal in the southern parts of the region (Figure 4). Despite the warmer than normal average for the month, there were several pushes of Arctic air into the region. The coldest air arrived on the 19th and persisted for several days. Minimum temperatures dropped below -40°F in Minnesota, below -20°F in Wisconsin and Michigan, below -10°F in Iowa, and below zero in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio during the cold snap. Daily temperature records were mostly record highs as warm air pushed north ahead of advancing cold fronts mid-month and near the end of the month.
Multiple Large Wrecks
Winter conditions caused hundreds of accidents across the Midwest. Five of the accidents each included dozens of vehicles and completely shut down the highways for hours. Two pileups happened on the 21st in southwest Ohio. The first involved 86 vehicles on I-275 near Cincinnati, Ohio with one fatality and at least 20 others sent to hospitals for their injuries. The second involved about 50 vehicles on I-70. On the 31st, a mile long accident on I-75 near Detroit, Michigan killed three people and at least 20 were injured and transported to hospitals. Just west of Indianapolis on I-70, dozens of vehicles were involved in a chain reaction wreck that killed one and injured at least ten. The third big accident on the 31st occurred outside Flint, Michigan on US-23, involved 32 vehicles, and caused 12 injuries.
Historic Low Levels for Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
January set a new record for lowest mean monthly level at 576.02 feet, just below the March 1964 level of 576.05 feet. Weather factors contributing to the low levels include low snowfall totals last winter, low precipitation amounts in 2012, and enhanced evaporation due to the warm and dry spring and summer. Lake levels are expected to remain at these levels, possibly breaking the record again in the next few months. Emergency dredging of harbors and limiting the weight of cargo ships continued to deal with the low water levels.
Severe weather returned to the Midwest on the 12th and then again in the last few days of the month. On the 12th
(Figure 5), there were a handful of severe thunderstorm reports along with an EF2 tornado near Hampton, Kentucky
(Livingston County). The tornado damaged two churches. On the 29th and 30th (Figure 6), the southern half of the Midwest had widespread thunderstorm wind damage reported along with several tornadoes. The tornadoes were reported in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky and ratings ranged from EF0 to EF2. Two people were injured by an EF2 tornado that hit Galatia, Illinois
(Saline County) and two others were injured by an EF0 tornado that struck near Bradfordsville, Kentucky