Lack of Weather Events in 2012

January 1st, 2013 at 6:32 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  Click the graphic to enlarge.  According to the Storm Prediction Center, there was a record low in the number of tornado and severe weather watches issued for 2012. Since moving into their Norman, OK office in 1997, there has never been as few watches as this year’s 697. 2012 will also finish with nearly 400 less tornado reports than the 7 year average. According to NOAA’s NCDC, 2012 will finish nearly 140 less than the 1991-2010 average.  Global accumlated tropical cyclone energy remains at historic lows and this is the longest period of time the U.S. has ever gone without a major hurricane hit (Category 3 and above).  2012 had 88 global tropical cyclones, 46 made hurricane strength, 21 major (96 knots +)

44 Responses to “Lack of Weather Events in 2012”

  1. fixxxer says:

    yeah it was a bust for any severe weather here.

  2. Scott (west olive) says:

    I would love a repeat of last summer, just 10 degrees cooler max temps. Rain only at night.

    1. Brad says:

      That would not be a repeat of last summer…

      1. Scott (west olive) says:

        Ok I’ll reword it for you. 10 degrees cooler max temps and if it rain’s do it at night. How’s that?

        1. Paul says:

          Sounds perfect. Now if we could get the snow to land only on the grass. Not that I’m picky or anything.

        2. Scott (west olive) says:


  3. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

    This is good news in a sense of less lives and property loss, that is the positive side of the low events. But I’m ready for a good thunderstorm but not feeling optimistic about 2013 severe storm season

    1. Brad says:

      Eleven billion-dollar events and massive property loss…

      1. Bill Steffen says:

        Masters comment that “unparalleled in American history during 2012″ is absolutely laughable. Sandy was expensive because it hit a very high populated/high value area – it was a minimal hurricane. That area was a swamp 75 years ago when we had bigger storms that hit that same area. Check out the hurricanes of ’38 and ’44: Both had much stronger winds than Sandy. We haven’t had a major hurricane hit the U.S. in 7 years, the longest stretch EVER. It was a lean year for tornadoes and floods. We had a below average year for major snowstorms.

        This statement from Dr. Chris Landsea is on the website of the National Hurricane Center (note point #3):

        Consensus Statements by International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones-VI (IWTC-VI) Participants :

        Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.
        No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.
        The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.

  4. Honey Boo Boo says:

    Says the lack of snow in Michigan makes people drive off cliffs……

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Regarding your link…several of the “events” he cites are moderate tornado-severe weather events that occur every year. What’s significant is the overall lack of tornadoes (we didn’t have a single one in W. Michigan in 2012) and severe t-storms. We had only 3 severe thunderstorm warnings for Kent County. All three were partial county warnings and for marginally severe winds. The “non-winter” is not a costly “event”. We save money when it’s mild in winter instead of when we have extended Arctic cold. We didn’t have a major U.S. ice storm. Sandy was a minimal hurricane at best (there’s a question of the technical structure and whether it was better described as a hybrid storm, due to the wind also being a function of the strong high to the north), made worst because it came onshore within two hours of the high tide of a full moon and that so many people ignored the warnings. Wildfires are mostly set, intentionally or not, by humans. The drought was not as severe as the droughts in the 1930s and 1950s: (Palmer Drought Index).

      1. Robert (Plainwell) says:

        yep Bill all hype over a less active weather pattern. That is why I get on your blog for facts not lies.

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Hurricane/superstorm Sandy was probably the worst storm in the history of the US!

        2. joanne says:

          facts not lies! Thanks for the laugh Robert.

        3. Robert (Plainwell) says:

          hey Joanne my side sure doesn’t seem to have to lie and adjust data to make warming look real.

        4. Bill Steffen says:

          Sandy is going to rank right up there in terms of dollar damage. It hit a very populated area, but it wasn’t anywhere near the strongest storm in terms of wind or rainfall. In terms of loss of life, the Galveston Hurricane killed nearly 10,000 people in 1900.

        5. Bill Steffen says:

          Check out what’s in the Sandy relief bill – which is TWICE as big as the ENTIRE YEARLY BUDGET of the WHOLE STATE OF NEW JERSEY! It includes money for fisheries in Alaska! Two-thirds of the relief won’t be spent for over two years!

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      This past year had many, many historic severe weather events!

        1. Brad says:

          Um, your blog post is titled “lack of weather events in 2012.” So, that contradicts “every year does [have many, many historic severe weather events].” Is this post really about politics, again?

        2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          It looks like even the most boring of years has some extreme events too.

        3. Bill Steffen says:

          Exactly, Mike – and in terms of “weather” (severe storms, tornadoes, strong hurricanes by wind speed, ice storms, snow storms), this year had few weather “events”.

          The title of the article was a little more specific to our area. I usually write about West Michigan weather. It’s true that there are always weather events (the March 2 tornado outbreak in IN and KY and (minimal for winds) Hurricane Sandy – but overall, we didn’t get a lot of hurricanes hitting the U.S. or very strong tornadoes thru the late spring and summer.

  5. I thought with GW we were going to see more events causing more death and destruction. I think places of higher education will need to approach the government for more money to conduct studies to see why.

  6. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Bring on the SNOW and COLD! This winter is dreadful!!!!!!!

    1. Jack says:

      Rocky, I Just Checked, The JEM Model, It will not Happen till, Last Week of Jan. Or First week of Feb. Bank on it !! ;-)

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        That is funny :) The RDB model shows a possible SNOWSTORM the week of 1-14-13!

        1. Tim from Zeeland says:

          still waiting for the storm you said is coming Jan 7th Rocky. Just like last years winter. Your forcast are always a bust. lol

        2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          I am correct about as often as the so called experts, which unfortunately is not that high of a percentage! Thanks for listening!

  7. Hugh says:

    I was pulling for Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Sorry for your loss. You had to be affected by it. Next year, for sure.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Yeah, the Big Ten has had another lackluster January 1st.

    2. Brian(Grandville) says:

      So cool to see Barry Alvarez on the field coaching the team again.

      1. Bill Steffen says:

        Yeah, and Wisconsin came close to winning that game.

  8. Skot says:

    “Lack of Weather Events”……Drum up some Global Warming comments Bill. Seems you always appear to answer questions from us when THAT comes up!! hmmmmm… Time to change up the format a touch.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Most people think of storms as weather events…and it was a lean year for storms…for tornadoes, for severe t-storms, for major hurricanes (intensity – remember Sandy was a minimal hurricane or hybrid), for big snowstorms and for ice storms.

  9. Jane says:

    Hi Bill,

    I’m wondering whether you can predict when we’ll be able to see the northern lights this winter? I don’t know if this classifies as a weather “event,” but I’d like to make a point of showing our kids if possible! Thoughts? Thanks :)

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Hi Jane. It’s hard to predict an aurora down here (we’re closer to the Equator than we are to the North Pole, believe it or not. Even when things seem to come together, there’s no guarantee that the aurora will be seen here. We usually look for a solar event called a Coronal Mass Ejection. If a strong CME is aimed at Earth, and it happens to be night (dark – we have more dark hours in winter than in summer, but it’s cloudier in winter, too), then we might see an aurora. I work inside downtown, so I rely on someone that sees an aurora to let us know on the blog. You can also go to and look on the left side for the Kp index. If it’s up to a 5, there’s a chance you can see the aurora (mainly to the north in a dark place. When that number reaches a 7 or 8, then we have a good chance of a decent auroral display.

  10. Mr. Negative says:

    I have to agree with Mr. Steffen. I’ve lost track of how many times I contributed the phrase “storm-free” last year…and so it was.

  11. Michael g (se gr) says:

    Starting to look like a cold pattern is setting up after the middle of next week. Will there be snow with it? Who knows.

    1. Tim from Zeeland says:

      Rocky knows. lol

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        I am glad that you have been listening. Keep up the good work!

        1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          I admire your commitment to not bicker and “go at it” with others on here; however, when you type what you just did above, it makes no sense. What “good work”? When people disagree with you in life, you can’t always take that route…

      2. fixxxer says:

        rj knows nothing.

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