Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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January 5, 2013

2012 was a dry, warm year in Goshen area

GOSHEN — 2012 was one of the warmest and driest years on record for the Goshen area.

According to local weather observers, 2012 was the warmest year at the Goshen station since records began in 1915.

The normal average for the area for 2012 was 49.8 degrees as determined by a 96-year average at the Goshen Station. The 2012 average came to 53.6 degrees, or 3.8 degrees above normal. The previous warmest year was 1998 at 53.3 degrees.

The highest temperature recorded for the year was 103 degrees on July 16. There were 34 days at 90 degrees or above in 2012, where the normal is 17. The record for highest number of 90 degrees or above days was 49 in 1934.

The lowest temperature recorded in 2012 was 4 degrees on Jan. 15. A temperature of zero degrees or below was not recorded for 2012, where the normal is eight days per year.

The warmest month was listed as July at 79.3 degrees and the coldest was January at 28.6 degrees. There were 16 new daily temperature records set or tied in 2012. All were high records, and most were in the month of March.

The weather’s impact on the local farming community was definitely felt.

“We had the drought of course, and I think what I’m hearing is it was one of the driest years since the dust bowl years,” said Kelly Heckaman, Extension educator with the Kosciusko County Purdue Extension Office. “Obviously corn took a big hit, because when it hit 100 degrees and we weren’t getting rain, pollination couldn’t take place. So we had places in the county where we had nothing, and some that yielded over 200 bushels to the acre. So corn definitely took a hit.”

According to Heckaman, one of the biggest determiners in who had a failed crop and who came out on top last year was irrigation.

“Oh yes, irrigation most definitely helped,” Heckaman said. “In fact, what actually worked better than we thought was when it was really hot in July, at the rate at which corn was using water, even with irrigation we didn’t think we were getting water onto the crops fast enough. But in the end we think it must have helped, because the yields under irrigation were really good. So I think it definitely helped.”

As for soybeans, Heckaman said rain late in the season helped to boost yields for the year.

“...Soybeans are a little more resilient, and we got rains late and right in their pollination zones,” Heckaman said. “So soybean yields actually turned out looking pretty normal for the year.”

Hay yields were also down in 2012, Heckaman said, noting that the year began strong but then dropped off as the drought hit mid-year.

“With hay, we got a good early, heavy cutting, but then nothing because of the drought,” Heckaman said. “So it was not a complete loss, but definitely reduced. As for who will be affected most, obviously the consumer, and ours moreso because of our livestock producers. So it will result long-term in an increase in food cost, so the consumer will feel it.”

When looking forward to what may be on the horizon for this year’s growing season, Heckaman said she couldn’t give any predictions as far as heat or drought, though she noted that the area is still well below ideal ground moisture levels, which could play a factor later in the year.

“Right now we know it’s really dry in the west yet,” Heckaman said. “Are we back to 100 percent moisture levels? Absolutely not. So we still need moisture. So I hate to say it, but we welcome all the snow we can get right now.”

Precipitation

The normal total for precipitation in the Goshen area over a 96-year average is 35.58 inches. The 2012 total was listed at 32.16 inches, or 3.42 inches below normal.

The greatest 24 hour precipitation was 1.94 inches recorded on July 19. August was recorded as the wettest month at 5.90 inches and November the driest at .55 of an inch. There were five daily precipitation records set in 2012.

Snowfall

The 96 year average for snowfall is listed at 32.9 inches. The 2012 total was listed at 40.7 inches, or 7.8 inches above normal.

The greatest 24 hour snowfall was 4.8 inches on Jan. 2. There were no snowfall records set in 2012. January was the snowiest month at 20.9 inches, followed by December at 9.9 inches.

Growing season

The normal average growing season over a 96-year average is 159 days. The 2012 total was 164 days, or five days above normal.

The 2012 growing season reached from April 27 to Oct. 8.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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