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Midwest Weekly Highlights - March 18-24, 2020

Temperatures Vary

Temperatures were variable across the Midwest, with most areas within a few degrees of normal (Figure 1). Kentucky was the only state significantly warmer than normal, with areas in southeastern Kentucky as much as 8°F above normal.  Minimum temperatures in southeastern Kentucky were more than 10°F above normal (Figure 2).  Meanwhile, average temperatures in northwestern Minnesota was 6-8°F below normal.  Parts of Iowa, Illinois and northeastern Missouri were 1-2°F below normal, with Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, northern Indiana and Michigan mostly near-normal.

Widespread Precipitation

Moderate to heavy rain along with some snowfall led to a wet week across the Midwest (Figure 3).  Amounts over an inch were common in many areas, with areas in southern Missouri and the Ohio River Valley receiving more than 2 inches.  Most of these areas had more than twice the normal amount, with Iowa, southern Wisconsin, southern Ohio and southwestern Missouri receiving more than three times the normal amount (Figure 4).  Moderate amounts of snowfall were also recorded in the Upper Midwest (Figure 5).  Areas in Northern Minnesota and the U.P. of Michigan recorded 2-4 inches, with northern Illinois through southern Lower Michigan recorded 1-3 inches.

Ohio River Valley Flooding

Heavy rain through the mornings of March 19 (Figure 6) and March 20 (Figure 7) led to flooding in parts of the Ohio River Valley.  Rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches were recorded, with some locally heavier amounts (Figure 8).  Minor and moderate flooding was widespread (Figure 9).  Major flooding was also recorded along the South Fork Licking River in southern Ohio (Figure 10).  Minor flooding was also recorded along the Mississippi River with heavy rain across the region during the week.

Several bridges and roads were washed out from the persistent heavy rain in the Ohio River Valley. This included Licking County and Greene County in Ohio, and Franklin County in Indiana. A bridge over Sanes Creek in Laurel, IN (Franklin County) washed out early in the morning on March 20 with two vehicles. Six fatalities were recorded in those vehicles, including three children.