The year unlike any other has finally come to an end. There was no shortage of active or notable weather in the Local 6 area, as 2020 officially ended what will be the warmest decade in history from 2011-2020.
What sticks out when thinking back was how the year started. You may or not remember, but winter 2019 into 2020 was tied for the least snowy on record in Paducah with only a trace of snow measured at the National Weather Service office.
At one point in the spring season I remember that NWS Paducah had issued the most amount of flash flood warnings for us than any other local weather office in the country. Flash flooding and hailstorms were a common occurrence early.
The night of the Nashville tornado, we had multiple severe and tornado warned supercells that sent high winds, big hail, and shelf clouds across western Kentucky, northwest Tennessee and southeast Missouri.
Many spots, especially in Ballard county, got more hail than they did snow in the entire year 2020.
We are no stranger to hail around here, but those supercells that night were unusual for our area. The volume of hail that fell to cover the ground like it did was very impressive, much more typical of something you see in Colorado, for example. We even got in pictures of “hail fog” after the storms moved out. Very steep lapse rates (temperature decrease with height in the atmosphere) and anomalously cold air at cloud level helped form that hail.
Precipitation, temperature statistics
The annual average precipitation total in Paducah is about 48 inches (since records began being kept here in the late 1930s). Remember 2019? That ranks as the third wettest year on record. Last year finished with 58.26” of total precipitation at the NWS Office in West Paducah, good for the 13th wettest year on record.
This was an interesting one, especially as many described 2020 as a year having many “showery and dreary” days, well there was truth to that! One hundred and 34 days with precipitation in the year will rank as the fifth most on record!
The decade of 2011-2020 will finish as the warmest decade on Earth ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization. For the Local 6 area, we have set more record high temperatures than record low temperatures in the past 10 years and the top three warmest years on record have all happened since 2010. Last year’s average of 59.3 degrees will be the ninth warmest on record.
National Headlines in 2020
The Atlantic Hurricane season of 2020 will be the most noteworthy thing about 2020. Fueled by La Nina in the Pacific Ocean, the jet stream and warm ocean temperatures favored a very active tropical season with a new record for hurricanes, tropical storms, and named storms. The year also saw the worst wildfires in the state of California ever, at least since they have been tracking the amount of forecast and land burnt from wild fires.
Remember that one of the side effects of a warming and changing climate is more active shifts in weather patterns and the obvious less cold weather.
Noah Bergren is a meteorologist with WPSD Local 6.