NOTE — Rainfall and temperature information is based on data kept at Milford Lake by the Corps of Engineers. For more information contact Chuck Otte, 238-4161.
When we review the weather for 2021 we come up with a mixed bag. To summarize the entire year, it was hot and dry. But within that summary we find a lot of extremes and perhaps a few surprises.
The average daily high during 2021 was 67.3, 1.5 degrees above normal. The average overnight low was 47.1, 3.1 degrees above normal. This gave us an annual mean temperature of 57.2, 2.3 degrees above normal. This did not place 2021 into the top five hottest months, but it did land as the ninth hottest year since the 1940s. There were extremes throughout the year and some occurred very close to each other. February was the fourth coldest February on record and March was the fifth hottest March on record. We went from being 11.4 degrees below average to 4.7 degrees above average. But three of the last four months of the year really told the tale. September was the fourth hottest September on record, November was the sixth hottest November on record and December was the hottest December on record. The last four months of the year were all 4 degrees or more above average, June and September were 3 degrees or more above average. In the end, only February, April and May had below average temperatures.
The lowest temperature for the year was -18 on Feb. 16. On that date we would reach a high of 7 degrees which was the first above 0 temperature we’d recorded for 4 days. Feb. 15 had a high of -2 and the three days prior to that had highs of 0. The highest temperature during 2021 was 101 reached on June 17 and 18. All told there were five days in 2021 with daytime highs of 100 degrees or higher. We continue to see overnight lows trending higher than long term averages. This trend is being seen around the globe and is an indication of a warming climate.
2021 was drier than average. Officially we were nearly 8 3/4 of an inch below the average annual precipitation of 33.57 inches. We tended to get just enough rain, just in time, though, to keep crops growing well which resulted in above average yields for many crop producers. The lack of rain became very obvious in the last half of the year. Farm ponds, springs and smaller streams are all showing the effects of low rainfall. This also raises concerns for wildfire hazard with tinder dry grass along roadways as we move into the normally driest time of the year. Five of the twelve months in 2021 had average or above average precipitation. November and December were extremely dry with the area going 52 consecutive days without rain at the end of the year.
The Climate Prediction Center is currently forecasting that drier and warmer than average temperatures could continue well into and through 2022. That doesn’t mean we can’t have cold temperatures, as we saw in February last year. It just means that average temperatures will likely trend above average for much of the year.