The Daily Democrat its taking its annual look at the year's top stories, as chosen by employees of the newspaper. This year, we've decided to stretch out the usual Top 10 to a Top 12 — or 12 in '12.
From a winter that was among the warmest — and least white — in memory to a violent summer storm that brought Decatur to its collective knees, the weather of 2012 was ... well, let's just call it a little "abnormal." And those events were voted by Daily Democrat employees as the No. 10 news story of the year.
After a winter that for all intents and purposes never materialized, at least in the traditional sense, spring came early. The mercury climbed to 67 degrees on March 1, and three weeks later topped out at a whopping 87 degrees.
It was a sign of things to come. A month-long dry spell finally was eased near the end of May, only to be replaced by sizzling temperatures in June.
Early morning thunderstorms on May 29 dropped over an inch of rain on Decatur, the first precipitation the county had seen in three weeks.
But then the rains would dry up, and the heat was only getting started.
On June 28 a record high temperature of 102 degrees was recorded in Decatur. But the worst was yet to come. One day later a severe storm slammed the city, causing widespread power outages, toppling semi trucks on area roadways and sending trees and debris sprawling across streets all over town. Some residents were without electricity for several days, and the cleanup continued for more than a week.
Then the heat, and drought, returned. July was one of the hottest on record. The city of Decatur's weather station recorded 17 highs of 90 degrees or more, all of them coming in the first 25 days of the month. Decatur had 28 days of 90-degree readings or higher during both June and July of this year.
The extreme heat and lack of precipitation resulted in a countywide burning ban instituted by the county commissioners. It was lifted on the final day of July, even though a mere 3.8 inches of rainfall was recorded during the month.
While July was hot and dry, August was wet. Rain fell on 16 of the first 18 days of the month, dropping more than 5 inches of precipitation during that time.
Halfway through August, most of the yards in Decatur turned brown by the drought had greened up. And what was once a dry summer has become something of a wet one. The city received over 5 inches of rain in the first 16 days of the month, already surpassing July’s total, and have almost five times more than the 1.08 inches which fell in the city in June.
More than 8 inches of rain was recorded at the city weather station in a 30- day stretch which began July 18.
The past few months of 2012 were a little more "normal" from a weather standpoint, although midway through December county residents — for better or worse — were still awaiting the first accumulation of snowfall for the winter season.