Missouri was stuck with some historically extreme weather in 2012, according to Missouri State Climatoligist Dr. Pat Guinan. It was the hottest year on record for Missouri, and 2012 was the driest since 1980.
The state as a whole received less than 10 inches below average rainfall. The drought withered corn fields and shrank the Mississippi River to such low water levels that barge traffic is in peril of shutting down.
And just because we turned the calendar year doesn’t mean the drought is over.
“We're hoping, obviously, for a pattern change,” Dr. Guinan said. “But unfortunately, for Missouri, the winter season is the dry season. It was unlikely we were going to eliminate that [rainfall] deficit we accumulated last year. I think the best chances for recovery were across southeastern Missouri, in your area, because winter precipitation totals are generally heavier climatologically across southeastern Missouri, anywhere from about 10 to more than 12 inches occurs between December and February.” Missouri has instrumental temperature records that date back to 1895, and Guinan said 2012 was the hottest year on record. Guinan said it’s unusual to have such persistent heat. “We only had month - September - with below normal temperatures, and yet since about the spring 2010 we’ve had an incredible string of many above normal temperature months,” Guinan said. March 2012, for instance, was the hottest March on record. It was 14 degrees warmer than an average March and was even warmer than an average April.