Midwest Weekly Highlights - February 22-28, 2011
Precipitation in the final week of February varied from north to south. In the northern half of the Midwest it was quite dry, while the southern half of the region was very wet with the divide running from southern Iowa to southern Michigan (Figure 1). The entire southern half of the Midwest received more than twice the normal precipitation with parts of Ohio at five times normal. In the upper Midwest totals were less than 25% of normal in many locations. Over 400 daily precipitation records were set including 27 that set new records for any date in the month.
Snow totals for the week were above normal across the middle of the Midwest (Figure 2) with nearly 200 daily snowfall records. Varied precipitations types fell during both of the week's storms. The snow during the week pushed some stations to new records for either February or the winter season. Snow remained on the ground in the northern parts of the Midwest
Mostly Cold TemperaturesMost of the Midwest experienced below normal temperatures. Temperature departures ranged from 5°F above normal in the southeast to 18°F below normal in the northwest (Figure 4). During the week, daily temperature records were not as numerous as precipitation records.
Drought Eases But Flooding Follows
Significant rainfall fell in the drought regions of the Ohio River valley. The upcoming Drought Monitor should show improvement from the February 22nd version of the map
(Figure 5). The downside of the drought busting rains was the flooding that followed the downpours on the 27th and 28th (Figure 6). Five died in floods in two incidents involving vehicles swept into flooded waterways. In Norwalk, Ohio (Huron County) a woman's car was washed into the Huron River where she drowned. In Graves County, Kentucky, 4 Amish children perished when their buggy was overturned by rushing waters of a normally small creek.
February 24th and 25th Storm
The first of two storm systems to cross the Midwest during the week dropped snow across the central parts of the region
(Figure 7). Snowfall amounts of several inches were seen across the path with totals up to 10" in parts of northeast Missouri and northern Ohio. Along the southern edge of the snow area, sleet and freezing rain caused treacherous travel conditions. Dozens of cars slid off I-80 in eastern Iowa, US-20 in Elgin, Illinois
(Kane County) was closed with 16 accidents reported, I-70 and I-64 in St. Louis were closed due to freezing rain. On I-64 there was a 31-vehicle accident that included some of the emergency vehicles responding to earlier accidents. The massive pile-up caused 21 injuries.
February 27th and 28th Storm
Snow fell across the northern parts of the Midwest with this system. The snow pushed some stations to new records for either the month or the winter season. Further to the south, the cold front triggered thunderstorms with hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. Fifteen tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service across five states.
In Missouri, an EF0 tornado struck in Shelbina
(Shelby County). Illinois had two Madison County tornadoes, one in Granite City and the other in Troy. The Troy tornado was an EF2 that damaged building in town. Indiana was hit by 6 tornadoes, including an EF2 in Indiana County. Other Indiana tornadoes struck in Gibson, Clark, Madison, and Pike counties. Kentucky had five confirmed twisters, the strongest was an EF3 that destroyed multiple homes and injured two people in Henry County. Other counties in Kentucky hit were Taylor, Jefferson, Wolfe, and Lincoln. In Ohio, the state's first February tornado since 1993 struck in Fairfield (Butler County).