Precipitation was the headliner for weather in 2015.
In most years, you can look at a variety of weather characteristics (temperatures, precipitation, winds, strong storms, etc.) and make a case that each could be a top weather story for the year. This year, with heavy, flooding rains in several months leading to record annual rainfall, near-drought conditions for a month, and little snowfall, precipitation wins the headline as the “Top Weather Story of 2015.”
The year began with typical precipitation totals. This changed in mid-May. Heavy rains around Mother’s Day and again around Memorial Day pushed the month’s rainfall to nearly 7 inches. Creeks were out of banks and minor flooding took place. It turns out May would only be the fourth wettest month of the year.
Heavy rains during the second half of June, bolstered by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, deposited 8.46 inches of rain for the month. Measurable rain fell for eight consecutive days (June 14-21) during which time 4.17 inches were recorded. Once again, minor flooding was a concern. But, our wettest month is yet to come.
Strong thunderstorms with heavy rain in early August delivered over 5 inches of rain in two days, resulting in more minor flooding. August rainfall nearly reached 8 inches.
The rains stopped (temporarily) at the end of September. The 0.70 inches received on Sept. 29 was the last measurable rain until Oct. 27. The overly-abundant rains of late spring into summer were just a memory. The ground dried up and cracked. Farmers who dreaded the thought of harvesting in soaked fields were able to harvest to their own schedule and not that of rainfall. Rainfall returned for the end of October but we received just 0.72 inches for the month.
December started dry, with only 0.96 inches of rain falling by the 20th. By the end of the month (11 days later), St. Louis set a record for December rainfall and a new annual record for precipitation as well. Almost 2 inches of rain fell in a three-day period from the 21st to the 23rd. This set the stage for historic flooding along many regional rivers and lakes when rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches fell across the region in just three days (Dec. 26-28). This station recorded 5.95 inches, with heavier amounts north and west of Highland. Rainfall for December was 8.81 inches, nearly double the usual amount of precipitation for the month. This left our annual rainfall total at 55.51 inches, almost 17 inches above a typical year. This total is in spite of the lack of rain for nearly a month back in October.
Snowfall for the year was sparse. The two main snow events for the entire year occurred on the last day of February and the first day of March. A grand total of 12.8 inches of snow fell during the calendar year. The last measurable snowfall of the year fell on March 27. Flurries on the last two days of 2015 teased of future snows in 2016.
By The Numbers
▪ The mean temperature for the 2015 was 56.1 degrees, above the 2014 mean temperature of 53.4 degrees and just below the typical mean temperature of 56.2 degrees.
▪ The thermometer rose above the 90-degree mark only 18 times and did not hit triple digits.
▪ The high temperature for 2015 was a balmy 94 degrees reached on both July 14 and Aug. 2.
▪ In 2014, Highland experienced 15 days of 90 degrees or higher temperatures and no days that hit 100 degrees.
▪ On the cool end of the temperature spectrum, 2015 experienced 19 nights of 10 degrees or below and two nights at or below zero, with the low for the year of -1 degree on Feb. 19. Highland experienced 23 nights with temperatures of 10 degrees or less and six at or below zero in 2014.
▪ In the 2015, Highland received 55.51 inches of liquid precipitation, compared to 45.20 inches of liquid precipitation received in 2014. This is far above the typical precipitation total of 38.75 inches and our the year since 2009.
▪ Highland experienced 14 rainfalls exceeding 1 inch, with six exceeded 2 inches.
▪ The 2.72 inches received Aug. 5 was the most rainfall received for any day in 2015.
▪ Highland received only half its typical annual snowfall of 22.2 inches, as the area received 12.8 inches of snow in 2015. Highland received its typical allotment of 22.2 inches of snow in 2014.
▪ The 6.8 inches of snow received Feb. 28 through March 1 was the most for any snow event in 2015.
Jeff Menz is the News Leader’s weather statistician, recording daily high and low temperatures and precipitation totals for the newspaper.