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2012 Brief Year in Review

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett and Joseph Brum - HPRCC 01/02/13

2012 was a warm and dry year for the High Plains Region. Every single station in the Region had average annual temperatures which were above normal. The majority of the Region had average temperatures which were 3.0-5.0 degrees F above normal, while some pockets of eastern North Dakota, southern South Dakota, and eastern Kansas had average temperatures greater than 5.0 degrees F above normal. The unusually warm temperatures caused many stations in each state to have their warmest year on record! Thousands of records were broken this year, including many all-time record highs.

The lack of precipitation was also major factor this year. While areas of Kansas and Colorado saw their second year of drought, the lack of precipitation coupled with warm temperatures caused the rest of the Region to slip into drought as well. By the end of 2012, nearly 27 percent of the Region was in the exceptional drought (D4) designation. Impacts from the drought were felt across the Region in many different sectors ranging from agriculture to water resources to even 4th of July celebrations. Wildfires were a major issue in the summer, especially in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history occurred in June when nearly 350 homes were burned in the Colorado Springs area. Many communities cancelled their fireworks shows due to the high fire danger risk. The drought even contributed to the formation of a large dust storm in western areas of the Region in October, which closed many local roads and interstates.

Although the drought was the big story this year, there were a few significant severe weather events to highlight. The first tornadoes to ever be reported in February in Nebraska occurred. According to the National Weather Service in North Platte, NE, an EF0 tornado was confirmed 21 miles northeast of North Platte on February 28th. Another EF0 tornado occurred near Greeley, NE that day. At least 50 tornadoes were confirmed in Nebraska and Kansas on April 14th, the most active severe weather day of the year in the Region. Finally, the second highest altitude tornado on record occurred near Mt. Evans in Colorado. According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, CO, the EF0 tornado touched down at an estimated altitude of 11,900 feet on July 28th.

To check out the rankings in your area, see the tables below. To find more detailed information on monthly events, impacts, and records, please see the monthly climate summaries archive here.

Location

Jan-Dec Average Temperature (F) / Rank

Record or Previous Record (F) / Year

Period of Record

 Alamosa, CO*

 43.2 / 7th warmest
 44.5 / 1934

1906-2012

 Colorado Springs, CO*

 53.0 / warmest
 52.5 / 1934

1894-2012

 Denver, CO*

 54.0 / 3rd warmest
 54.9 / 1934

1872-2012

 Grand Junction, CO*

 55.3 / 2nd warmest
 57.5 / 1934

1893-2012

 Pueblo, CO*

 55.0 / 5th warmest
 56.6 / 1981*

1888-2012

 Concordia, KS*

 57.4 / 2nd warmest
 57.8 / 1934

1885-2012

 Dodge City, KS*

 58.2 / 2nd warmest
 58.7 / 1934

1874-2012

 Goodland, KS*

 54.8 / 4th warmest
 56.7 / 1934

1895-2012

 Topeka, KS*

 59.9 / warmest
 58.7 / 1938

1887-2012

 Wichita, KS*

 61.5 / warmest
 60.1 / 1954

1888-2012

 Grand Island, NE*

 55.1 / 4th warmest
 56.2 / 1934

1895-2012

 Lincoln, NE*

 54.7 / 6th warmest
 55.7 / 1934*

1887-2012

 Norfolk, NE*

 53.3 / warmest
 52.7 / 1931

1893-2012

 North Platte, NE*

 52.2 / 8th warmest
 54.2 / 1934

1874-2012

 Omaha, NE*

 55.9 / 2nd warmest  56.0 / 1931

1871-2012

 Scottsbluff, NE*

 53.1 / warmest
 52.9 / 1981

1893-2012

 Valentine, NE*

 52.1 / warmest
 51.2 / 1934

1889-2012

 Bismarck, ND*

 45.7 / 5th warmest
 46.3 / 2006*

1874-2012

 Fargo, ND*

 46.4 / warmest
 tied / 1987

1881-2012

 Grand Forks, ND*

 43.8 / 2nd warmest
 44.0 / 1987

1893-2012

 Williston, ND*

 44.1 / 8th warmest
 46.9 / 1981

1894-2012

 Aberdeen, SD*

 46.8 / 2nd warmest
 48.1 / 1987

1893-2012

 Huron, SD*

 49.7 / 2nd warmest
 50.1 / 1931

1881-2012

 Rapid City, SD*

 50.5 / warmest
 49.7 / 2006*

1942-2012

 Sioux Falls, SD*

 50.6 / 2nd warmest
 50.7 / 1931

1893-2012

 Casper, WY*

 48.8 / 2nd warmest
 49.2 / 1994

1939-2012

 Cheyenne, WY*

 49.1 / warmest
 48.3 / 1981*

1872-2012

 Lander, WY*

 49.2 / warmest
 47.8 / 1988*

1891-2012

 Sheridan, WY*

 48.1 / 5th warmest
 48.7 / 1934

1907-2012


*indicates multiple years, latest year listed

Location

Jan-Dec Precipitation (inches) / Rank

Record or Previous Record (inches) / Year

Period of Record

Alamosa, CO

 5.58 / 20th driest
  3.40 / 1956

1906-2012

Colorado Springs, CO

 8.11 / 4th driest
  6.07 / 1939

1894-2012

Denver, CO

 10.11 / 20th driest 
  7.48 / 2002

1872-2012

Grand Junction, CO

 4.53 / 3rd driest
  3.56 / 1900

1893-2012

Pueblo, CO

 5.00 / 2nd driest
  3.94 / 2002

1888-2012

Concordia, KS

 24.01 / 43rd driest  12.38 / 1956

1885-2012

Dodge City, KS

 18.08 / 44th driest

  9.97 / 1956

1874-2012

Goodland, KS

  9.95 / 3rd driest
  8.89 / 1976

1895-2012

Topeka, KS

 23.06 / 10th driest  19.07 / 1963

1887-2012

Wichita, KS

 25.01 / 32nd driest
 12.15 / 1966

1888-2012

Grand Island, NE

 11.55 / driest
 12.01 / 1940

1895-2012

Lincoln, NE

 19.14 / 11th driest
 13.94 / 1936

1887-2012

Norfolk, NE

 14.50 / 2nd driest
 13.80 / 1894

1893-2012

North Platte, NE

 10.04 / 2nd driest  10.01 / 1931

1874-2012

Omaha, NE

 22.61 / 29th driest  14.90 / 1934

1871-2012

Scottsbluff, NE

  6.99 / driest
  7.70 / 1964

1893-2012

Valentine, NE

 10.68 / 3rd driest
 10.14 / 1894

1889-2012

Bismarck, ND

 14.90 / 50th driest*
  5.97 / 1936

1874-2012

Fargo, ND

 14.52 / 10th driest

  8.53 / 1976

1881-2012

Grand Forks, ND

 17.08 / 26th driest
  9.94 / 1936

1893-2012

Williston, ND

 13.20 / 43rd driest   6.13 / 1934

1894-2012

Aberdeen, SD

 14.64 / 10th driest
  7.69 / 1976

1893-2012

Huron, SD

 19.66 / 65th driest
  9.72 / 1952

1881-2012

Rapid City, SD

 11.41 / 9th driest
  9.12 / 1974

1942-2012

Sioux Falls, SD

 17.34 / 9th driest
 10.53 / 1894

1893-2012

Casper, WY

  7.88 / 6th driest   6.56 / 1988

1939-2012

Cheyenne, WY

 10.15 / 14th driest
  5.04 / 1876

1872-2012

Lander, WY

  6.60 / 3rd driest
  5.38 / 2001

1891-2012

Sheridan, WY

  9.53 / 4th driest
  8.18 / 1960

1907-2012


*indicates multiple years, latest year listed

 

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