(WFRV) – 2021 was quite the year for news and events, including the weather. Below are the Top 5 weather events of 2021.
5.) February 4th
February 4 brought one of the biggest snow events of the 2020-2021 winter season. It started as sleet and freezing rain and turned into heavy snow in the evening hours. Snow totals over 10 inches fell in Northern Wisconsin with 6 inches of wet heavy snow for the Fox River Valley. The lakeshore had to shovel the least, with just a couple of inches of snow, but as the snow tapered off, strong winds gusting to 40 miles per hour blew in leading to drifting snow and tough travel. Overall the winter of 2020-2021 was timid on snow with only 32 inches for the entire snow season – we typically average 55 inches of snow.
4.) July 26th
Jumping ahead to July 26 where the warm and humid air of summer fueled a round of thunderstorms packing violent and damaging winds. Hitting in the middle of the night, at one point doppler radar detected winds of 70 to 85 miles per hour as the storms moved through Oconto and Menominee counties. There was peak wind gust of 77 miles per hour near Mountain and a gust of 61 miles per hour in Green Bay.
The tree damage and power outages were extensive with nearly 85 thousand customers losing power across the Wisconsin Public Service and WE Energies grids at some point in the storm.
3.) July 28th
Just two days after the July 26 wind event, wind and even a tornado touched down in Wisconsin. A line of severe storms moved into the area during the evening of July 28 causing widespread tree and power line damage from Tomahawk to Oshkosh. The storms produced an EF-1 tornado near Merrill in North Central Wisconsin, but perhaps the most interesting feature was the merger of two storm cells right over Ripon in Western Fond du Lac County.
That cell merger resulted in an intense storm outflow surge right through Ripon which produced widespread straight-line wind damage. There was a total of 35 thousand customers that lost power.
2.) September 7th
One of the largest hail storms in Wisconsin history came raining down September 7 as a cold front swept in through the area just after daybreak. Gigantic hailstones formed in rapid updrafts of the storms and produced a hailstone 4 inches in diameter.
The storms lined up along the cold front and delivered 2 to 3-inch hail in Fond du Lac before exiting east into Lake Michigan. What was odd about these storms was the lack of damaging winds due to a stable layer of air right near the surface which prevented this storm from being worse.
1.) December 15th
December 15 didn’t bring snow – it brought wind and an exceptionally rare tornado event in Wisconsin. Record warmth moved into the state through the day as temperatures smashed record highs in the 60s and 70s. Green Bay set a new record high of 64 degrees at midnight, going into the 16th, with a high of 65 degrees at 12:46 a.m. That wasn’t the worst part of it though, this bizarre storm was able to produce as many as 4 tornados that have been confirmed in Central and Western Wisconsin. This is the first time we’ve had December tornados in Wisconsin in 50 years.
And where there weren’t tornados there was powerful wind gust, widespread throughout the state, bringing 55 to 75 mile per hour winds. Rhinelander measured a 76-mile per hour wind gust, Green Bay clocked a 60 mile per hour gust with over 50 thousand power outages reported.
The wind was so strong that wildfire smoke from Western Kansas made it all the way into Wisconsin, so much so, people could actually smell it.
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