Putting the 2012 Indianapolis Heatwaves and Drought into Perspective

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Putting the 2012 Indianapolis Heatwaves and Drought into Perspective

Photograph by Ewan Bellamy. Some rights reserved under a Creative Commons license.

You heard about it all over the streets of Indianapolis during the Super Bowl festivities. It was unseasonably warm in the Circle City. Patrons swarmed the Super Bowl Village along Georgia Street – some wearing little more than a heavy sweatshirt.

As the host city, Indianapolis was bracing itself to deal with several feet of snow and here we were – experiencing the kind of weather Dallas was hoping for the year prior.

We knew it had to cool off eventually. And it did. Then it heated back up again. And again. And again.

Through the first six months of the year, 2012 has been the warmest year in U.S. history. Locally, Indianapolis has experienced weather far warmer than normal. Consider Indy’s total cooling degree days for the first six months of 2012 compared to the long-term monthly averages. Every month of 2012 is considerably higher than the average (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Comparing Indianapolis’ 2012 cooling degree days (base 65°F) to long-term climate normals.

2012 data complete through June 30.

Information sources: National Climatic Data Center and Weather Underground, Inc.

As if the heatwaves were not enough, Indianapolis is currently experiencing a considerable drought. Four of the first six months of 2012 have experienced below-average rainfall (Fig. 2). In May, we recorded 2.7-inches of rain when typically we receive just over 5-inches. In June, the Indianapolis International Airport recorded a record low of 0.09-inches (the June average is 4.55-inches). After the first six months, we are about 6-inches short on rain. If the second half of year mimics the first, Indianapolis will record just over 30-inches of rain – that’s about 30% short of the 42.44-inch average.

Fig. 2: Comparing Indianapolis’ 2012 precipitation to long-term climate normals (1981-2010).

2012 data complete through June 30.

Information sources: National Climate Data Center and National Weather Service.

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