Tod Pritchard at Wisconsin Emergency Management says perhaps the biggest weather event in the Badger State this past year was the Groundhog Day blizzard that started the afternoon of February 1st and continued into the next morning. “I think that’s one of the events that I always find everyone remembers exactly what they were doing on that day and how they made it through that day.”
Many motorists were stranded and one person died, but Pritchard says it could have been much worse. Snow accumulations ranged from 12 to 26 inches. Many roads were totally impassable, including portions of the interstate, with massive snow drifts of up to 12 to 15 feet in some locations and zero visibility.
Pritchard says another highlight was the tremendous tornado outbreak across the state. “You know the April 10th outbreak was really big. It’s gonna be the biggest daily April tornado outbreak in Wisconsin history. We had 15 tornadoes; several of them were very strong, very powerful.” In 2011, 38 tornadoes were documented, making the year the 3rd busiest on record. Wisconsin averages 23 per year.
In total for the year, nine people were killed directly by weather events, and at least 124 injured. Excessive heat was the biggest killer. “We had five deaths due to the heat wave; we had over 100 injuries, but it could have been much, much worse.”
A four-day heat wave affected the state in mid-July with heat index values of 100 to 117. The warmest temp was 103; the coldest was minus 37. Total reported property and crop losses were approximately $104 million. Residents also felt the effects of an earthquake that originated in DC, and some folks witnessed waterspouts on area lakes.
Check out ReadyWisconsin for all kinds of preparedness information and to take a look back on the year’s events. Total fatalities for the year directly related to the weather came to nine with 124 total injuries. The breakdown shows one death was due to the blizzard; five from the heat; one from lightning; one from a tornado; and one from a thunderstorm. The coldest temperature got down to -37 degrees (F) at Ladysmith 3SW (Rusk Co.) on January 22nd. The warmest temp was 103 at Ft. Atkinson on July 20th.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 2:03