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Top 10 Weather Headlines of 2012

On both a national and a local scale, 2012 was the warmest year on record as of that time. Extreme weather events in 2012 captured our attention. A record-breaking drought dominated the spring and summer months. A summer heat wave broke all-time high temperature records. The traditional spring severe weather season was relatively quiet. The most significant severe weather event occurred in late February, when an EF-4 tornado struck Harrisburg, Illinois. The annual rainfall total at Paducah was the 2nd lowest on record, compared to 2011, which was the highest on record.

  • The winter of 2011-12 was unusually mild, ranking among the 5 warmest on record at some sites. The seasonal snowfall totals were less than an inch in many areas. 
  • The traditional spring severe weather season was rather inactive. However, the annual tornado count for the Paducah NWS forecast area was the 3rd highest since the modernized office opened in 1994.
  • Summer heat and drought dominated the weather headlines, followed by a cool and quiet fall.
  • The year ended with a very high-impact winter storm on Christmas night, mainly along and north/west of the Ohio River.
  • The following weather events are ranked unscientifically. The primary rating factors are economic impact, fatalities and injuries, and social impact. The meteorological significance of the event is secondary.
Pond on Highway 62 near Paducah on June 271. Spring/Summer Drought - One of the driest years on record contributed to a long-term drought that decimated the corn crop in many areas and caused record low river levels. Photo at left of low pond near Paducah, KY in June.
Photo of destruction in Harrisburg2. Harrisburg EF-4 Tornado - A tornado outbreak during the early morning hours of February 29 took a number of lives. Seven persons were killed when Harrisburg was struck by a tornado rated EF-4. Damage photo taken in Harrisburg.

Photo of sunset near Richmond, KY in 20053. Record Summer Heat Wave - July was the hottest month on record in many places. The all-time high temperature record was broken at Paducah. Photo of sunset in Kentucky.

Snowfall map for the Christmas night storm4. Christmas Night Winter Storm - A major winter storm dumped around a foot of snow in much of southern Illinois and parts of southwest Indiana, causing major travel disruptions. Snowfall accumulation map for Christmas night storm at left.

Photo of damage in Diehlstadt, MO on June 45. Scott County, MO EF-2 Tornado - An EF-2 tornado at Diehlstadt, MO took three lives on June 4. Photo taken at Diehlstadt.

6. Southern IL EF-2 tornado - One person was killed by an EF-2 tornado that struck Opdyke, IL on March 23. Photo at left courtesy of Morgahn Zedalis.

Damaged house near Corydon, KY7. EF-2 Tornadoes in KY/IN - Within days of the deadly Harrisburg tornado, a smaller tornado outbreak occurred on March 2. Posey County, Indiana and Union County, KY were each struck by an EF-2 tornado on March 2. Photo of house just west of Corydon, KY.

Home wall damaged by hail in south Oakland City, IN8. Gibson County, IN macroburst - One of the strongest macrobursts on record in our area produced winds to 110 mph on July 31. Several persons were injured by hail that was up to grapefruit size. Photo at left of hail-damaged home in south Oakland City, IN.

Photo of destroyed garage near Hazel, KY9. Jan. 22 Severe Weather - A severe weather outbreak produced numerous reports of wind damage, along with a couple weak tornadoes. Photo at left of destroyed garage near Hazel, KY.
Structural damage in Mayfield, KY10. Mayfield, KY EF-1 tornado - A tornado struck Mayfield, KY during the early morning hours, injuring one person rather seriously. Photo taken in Mayfield, KY.