By Shelley Grieshop
Ohio has it all, including a sample of every season.
In the Grand Lake area that usually means temperatures that dip below zero in the dead of winter and rise to a scorching 100 degrees by mid-summer. Mother Nature was pretty predictable again in 2005 -- except for January, when a breathtaking but dangerous ice storm created havoc across the region.
"January was indeed the exception this year," says local weather forecaster Dennis Howick.
The first two weeks of the year brought 7.35 inches of moisture to the local area, with more than half that amount (4.1 inches of ice and snow) arriving Jan. 8. By the end of the month, a record 8.07 inches of moisture had soaked the ground, swelling creeks and rivers and causing flooding that led to sandbagging efforts in several communities.
The previous moisture record for January was 4.58 inches, set in 1959. The average rainfall amount for the month of January is typically just above two inches. January's freezing temperatures left every rain-saturated surface with several inches of thick ice, downing tree branches like toothpicks and pulling power lines to the ground.
By Jan. 12, a partially frozen Grand Lake was 22 inches above its normal level.
Despite the soggy start and a snowy December (1.54 inches so far of rain and snow), Howick says the local moisture total for the year is about normal. Rain precipitation so far this year has tallied 36.85 inches; 2004's total was 37.3 inches.
Some local residents might debate Howick's rainfall totals and rightfully so, he says. If you've ever driven down the road in a pouring rain and found it dry as a bone a mile away, you know what he means.
"Here in Celina, we were kind of in a dry spot this year compared to some other places," he says. "Five miles north of town had a lot more rain than we did."
Across the nation, weather extremes were everywhere. Droughts were recorded in the far northwest and central areas of the U.S., and flooding was a problem in the northeast. The Gulf Coast was pelted with a record number of hurricanes (14); seven of those were considered major ones, including Katrina.
The U.S. tracked warmer-than-average temperatures throughout 2005 and the year likely will be recorded as one of the top 20 warmest years on record since 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
Temperature extremes this year weren't too unbearable locally and broke no records. Outdoor thermometers reached a high 94 degrees on both June 25 and July 26; on the low end, minus 3 readings were hit on Jan. 18 and again five days later. Burr!
Howick and his wife, Theresa, have been predicting and recording local weather for the federal government (including the National Weather Service) since taking over for his father, Harold, in January 2000. Harold Howick began documenting the daily weather activity for the feds in August 1956.