1. 2. 3. Northern Wisconsin Weather: Cold temps (future & past), current snow numbers. 4. 12. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 23. 24.

25. 26. Cold temps (future & past), current snow numbers. 27. 28.

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Everyone's been talking about the upcoming Arctic air heading our way next week.

The models have been forecasting a period of cold air headed south from the Arctic Circle for the last ten days.

Agreement between the models (finally) has brought some confidence to their forecasts, enough so that I'm ready to post about it. Since there has been disagreements between the models, the exact temperature numbers are still a bit flexible, but the general ballpark is now clear.
I took the NWS forecast temperatures for my location on Maple Hill, and put them into Excel (to the right).

The point? It looks a bit chilly, eh?!?!

I looked back in my records from last winter and found a total of four days that my maximum temperature was below zero, with two consecutive max temps below zero. So far this winter, I have reached positive temperatures every day (despite 13 days with negative temperatures). In addition, if the forecast temperatures prove correct, this winter will smash the lowest temp I recorded last winter (-16.4 F). On 27 December 2008 we already beat -16.4 F by two degrees (-18.4 F).


A quick look at U.S. record low temps.

I thought it would be fun to get a refresher on record low temperatures before the cold snap arrives. If anyone thinks this up-coming cold weather is unusual, they'd be wrong.
By the map (to the left) from ggweather.com, we'd have a long way to go before we broke the old Wisconsin record.

Let me digress a moment while I reminisce... I remember (vividly) Wisconsin's record minimum temperature. A very strong storm swept across the Western Great Lakes the last few days of January in 1996. Across the northern section of the state (I can't speak for the south) we had an ice storm followed by a blizzard.

The snowplows had to repeatedly clear the roads as the brutal winds re-drifted everything shut; the snowbanks were close to 15' tall. I also remember many powerline poles snapping off above the snow banks, we ended up without electricity for a week. Following the blizzard was almost a week of temperatures far below zero. I remember seeing -50 on the thermometer at my parent's house (like the kind you have on your raingauge pole, OSNW3) while Couderay (38 miles southwest of my parent's house) recorded -55 F, the state record.

Sometime during this polar freeze the main gasline in Ashland County began a small leak. The pipe exploded when crews came out to attempt repairs. This left the entire northern portion of the state without natural gas, as well as electricty. Many of the rural homes used wood as a primary or back-up heat so we survived, but it was at some point during that week when we were taping blankets over the back door that we finally gave up and bought a generator.

I found these two points on The Weather Doctor's Diary:

2 February 1996, Tower, Minnesota: Temperature plummets to a Minnesota record low of 60° below zero, F (-51° C), cancelling Tower's annual Icebox Days festival because it is too cold.

4 February 1996, Couderay, Wisconsin: The coldest temperature ever recorded east of the Mississippi River: -55 °F (-48.3° C).

This is from the NWS in Duluth concerning the record low temperature, their record (at Duluth's airport) for consecutive hours below zero is 186 between the 12th and 20th of January in 1994. 1996 came in second at 164 hours.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
145 PM CST THU JAN 13 2005

...COLD WEATHER STATS FOR THE NORTHLAND...
AS THE COLD AIR SETTLES INTO THE NORTHLAND...LET'S LOOK BACK AT SOME
NORTHLAND COLD WEATHER STATISTICS:

THE COLDEST MINNESOTA TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED WAS MINUS 60 WHICH
OCCURRED AT TOWER ON FEBRUARY 2, 1996
THE COLDEST WISCONSIN TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED WAS MINUS 55 WHICH
OCCURRED AT COUDERAY ON FEBRUARY 2ND AND 4TH, 1996.

...DURING THE COLD SNAP OF 1996 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AT DULUTH
RECORDED 164 CONSECUTIVE HOURS OF BELOW ZERO TEMPERATURES.
THE
TEMPERATURE DROPPED TO -1 AT 400 PM ON JANUARY 29 AND FINALLY ROSE
TO ABOVE ZERO AT NOON ON FEBRUARY 5TH. THE LOW TEMPERATURE ON
FEBRUARY 2 WAS MINUS 39 AND THE HIGH TEMPERATURE THAT DAY WAS
MINUS 21.
I also found a comparison on how the "Cold Wave Breaks Records" from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC).

Back to the present - current snow numbers.

I thought this graph (to the right) was interesting, a look at daily snowfall amounts from last winter (black) and this winter (bluish).


I wish I had more data at my current location for a deeper climatological view, but at least I can compare with last winter.

Last winter I had eight days of snowfall over 4 inches, with three days over 8 inches.


This winter, so far, I've had three days over 4 inches, with one day over 8 inches. I can't wait to see how the next few months turn out!


How much snow has fallen this year?

The total now stands at 49.6 inches since the first snowfall on the 27th of October. The first snowfall last winter occurred on the 7th of November (0.25") - my blog post from that date (here).

This graph (to the left) shows the cumulative snow that has fallen last winter (dashed) and this winter's (solid).

Snow depth this year and last.

It looks like we had deeper snow earlier last winter, despite an earlier start to snow this winter.
I really don't have much to say, except, HOLY CRAP!!!

Honesty, there was measurable snow on the ground for 155 days last winter. That's 3 days over FIVE months!!!!!

The only difference between here and the Northwest Territory of Canada are the longer (not by much) days. I'm kinda freaking out.

Which brings me to my last topic - the First Day of Winter (catching up).

I was away from home as this event occurred in my backyard, but I still wanted to mark its passing.

OSNW3 and I came up with a working definition of the First Day of Winter (FDoW). We arrived at this definition:

"Actual" First Day of Winter
represents a daily max temp equal or below 32°F and a snow depth of 1" or greater for several consecutive days.


I believe six days works well at my location, OSNW3 uses the same (OSNW3's definition here). Likewise, the Last Day of Winter (LDoW) uses a reverse definition.

Last winter this resulted in 148 days of "winter", ending the 28th of April (my blog post here). This year, my FDoW fell on the 12th of December, ten days later than last year. We'll have to see how the last day compares.

This year OSNW3 measured a FDoW on the 10th of December (blog post here), it was a day earlier last winter (ONSW3's graph here).

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