Midwest Weekly Highlights -January1-7, 2013
Dry Start to the Year for the Majority of the Region
With the start of 2013 in the books, the majority of the Midwest region experienced a dry week as only a small portion of Missouri and extreme west central Illinois came close to reaching their normal total for the period (Figure 1). Precipitation totals across the region were generally below 1" with widespread areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and northwest Illinois receiving no measurable precipitation (Figure 2). The paltry precipitation totals resulted in very few precipitation records being set. The precipitation that did fall during the week came predominantly in the form of snow, and fell on December 31st and into January 1st (Figure 3). Almost all of the recorded snowfall records occurred on January 1st as well.
Above Average Temperatures in the North, Below Average in the South
Temperatures through most of the region remained below normal to start 2013, with areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan seeing above normal temperatures (Figure 4). North central and northwest Minnesota were the areas most above normal in the region, while southern Indiana and southeast Illinois were the most below normal. Even with above normal temperatures, the entire states of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the northern half of Iowa saw average maximum temperatures below freezing on the week (Figure 5). With the movement of temperatures closer to normal, versus the last week of 2012, no daily temperature records were set in the region.
Chicago Approaches Record Snowfall, Lack of
The city of Chicago is approaching a record in regards to snowfall, a lack of snowfall. The previous record of 319 consecutive days without an inch of snowfall, set in 1939-1940, is set to be broken in the coming days. In total, the city of Chicago has received 1.3" of snowfall this season
(Figure 6). Areas surrounding Chicago have seen more snowfall, but still well below their season average (Figure 7).
Barge Traffic Along the Mississippi Still a Concern
Drought conditions in the High Plains and Midwestern regions continue to strain barge traffic along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with near-record and record-low water levels. Areas of the Mississippi River may effectively shut down to many towboats and barges in the coming days, putting at risk jobs and commerce in the Midwest. It is estimated that as many as 8,000 jobs could be affected by a closure of the Mississippi River to towboat and barge traffic. Cities, engineering firms, and the Army Corp of Engineers have been working non-stop recently to dredge areas of the rivers in an attempt to keep them open to towboat and barge traffic.