With just a few days left in 2012, the Milwaukee area stands poised to at least tie if not break the warmest year on record, since records have been kept in the late 1800s.
The average temperature as of Dec. 26 was 53.1 degrees, tying the record set in 1931. It would be a worthy award to take away from a year that had its share of weather headlines, and not just for the heat.
The National Weather Service, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has come out with its top Wisconsin headlines from 2012, and we've added a few of our own links to local weather stories. Read on to remember what a weird weather year it has been.
The story really began in 2011, as the winter that never was gave us warm temps and below normal snowfall. Only three storms of any consequence impacted the state in January, one whopper on leap day Feb. 29, and none of them impacted the Milwaukee area. For much of southeastern Wisconsin, average snowfall for the season was down 10 to 20 inches.
St. Patrick's Day in shorts; Easter in parkas
Spring continued with "insane warmth in March" with early green-ups making many wonder if they may have to mow their lawns.
Temperatures in March were 15 to 30 degrees above normal on most of the days between the 6th and 28th, and maximum temperatures during the month peaked in the lower to mid-80s on the 20th and 21st across the southern two-thirds of the state. More than 5,000 high temperature records were also set throughout the region.
However, in April, frosts and freezes ended up wiping out much of Door County's cherry crop, and apple producers had to take losses on as much as 50 percent of their crop. (That's why MacIntosh apples are $4 per bag at Pick n Save.)
Despite April's dip, the spring overall provided record-breaking average monthly temperatures of 13 to 16 degrees above normal. The average monthly temperature for all of Wisconsin was 45.3 degrees, which shattered the old record of 40.7 set back in 1910, according to NOAA.
Summer continues the hot trend, and then some
By the time we looked toward summer, Wisconsin and Milwaukee had logged their warmest January through June on record. It should have been a tip-off of what the dog days would bring.
In late June and July, Oak Creek joined many other communities in posting a burning ban in response to a weeks-long absence of rain, which placed the city under an extreme drought status, which lasted well into August. The ban came a day after a fire broke out during the Fourth of July fireworks display.
Regionally, a long-duration, killer heat wave from June 28 to July 7 was recorded, and only the northwest portions of the state had any rain to talk about. The upside was that only four tornadoes were recorded in the state, which was the second lowest yearly number since 1950, according to NOAA. However, for Wisconsin July 2012 was tied for only the 4th warmest on record.
Despite the return of some rain as August progressed, the moderate to extreme drought experienced in summer and fall seasons impacted crop yields. Lake Michigan also reported near-record low water levels, dropping to 576.57 feet, or 0.13 feet (about 1.56 inches) above the record low October monthly mean level of 576.44 feet set 1964.
Catching a wave in October
Mid-October had us thinking "too little, too late," as a three-day rainfall helped to put another dent in the drought.
At the end of October, while Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Atlantic coast, gusty winds from the mega storm also affected Eastern Wisconsin and Lake Michigan shoreline, with many surfers taking a risk to catch a wave.
Snow...what snow? (Part deux)
Another mild November led to a December that set another record (and a case of deja vu), as the snowless streak record was broken and held on Dec. 19, with a total of 288 days without measurable snow. The which brought anywhere from 3 to 20 inches to the southeastern Wisconsin area, ended that streak.
What 2013 will bring is ultimately up to mother nature, but at heart we're all weather forecasters. What do you think the rest of winter will be like?