Midwest Weekly Highlights - January 15-21, 2013
The third week of January was mostly drier than normal for most of the region. Above normal precipitation fell only in eastern Kentucky and along the northern edge of the Midwest while a large swath from Iowa and Missouri eastward to Ohio received no precipitation at all
(Figure 1). Snow fall amounts along the northern edge of the Midwest ranged from 3 to 12 inches with some locations in the Upper Peninsula picking up between 1 and 2 feet during the week (Figure 2).
Temperatures averaged over the week were a mixed bag of above and below normal. Cooler than normal temps occurred in the northern reaches of the region while warmer than normal temps extended from west to east across the middle of the region
(Figure 3). Temperatures were well above normal mid-week but the passage of a cold front (Figure 4) brought Arctic air into the Midwest along with the coldest temperatures of the winter. The swing from well above normal temperatures on the 19th
(Figure 5) to well below normal temperatures on the 21st (Figure 6) was a drop of 30°F to 40°F in many locations. On the 21st, Minneapolis recorded it first sub-zero maximum temperature since January 15, 2009. Despite the wide range of temperatures during the week, daily temperature records were limited to a few dozen record highs and record lows.
Water levels remain low on the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo. Drought upstream in the upper Mississippi River and Missouri River valleys has severely limited the water flowing downstream. The river stage was less than 4 feet above its record low at St. Louis
(Figure 7). River levels improve after the Ohio River joins the Mississippi but barge traffic is limited by the lowest river levels along their path. Lakes Michigan and Huron were also close to their record low level. A small snow melt and limited ice cover last winter along with increased evaporation due to warm temperatures in the spring and summer have contributed to the lake level dropping. Shipping has been negatively impacted with several harbors shut down and cargo limited to less than full loads where shipping continues.