Other parts of the country including Denver, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast U.S. have all been slammed with snowstorms already. Around here, we are still waiting. While some of you are happy about that it is only a matter of time until Old Man Winter shows up with a punch. With this in mind, Winter Weather Awareness week starts in Wisconsin November 7th. I’ll be passing on plenty of winter weather information and safety tips next week but let’s wet our appetites with some interesting Wisconsin winter weather facts with this blog.
AVERAGE DATES OF FIRST MEASURABLE SNOWFALL
Below are average first measurable snowfall dates for locations in northeast and north-central Wisconsin. The average dates were compiled from 30 years of data (1981-2010).
Avg Date Avg Date Avg Date Location 0.1 Inch 1.0 Inch 3.0 Inches
Antigo Nov 9 Nov 13 Nov 28
Appleton Nov 15 Nov 27 Dec 20
Chilton Nov 17 Nov 22 Dec 16
Clintonville Nov 16 Nov 25 Dec 15
Green Bay Nov 13 Nov 23 Dec 16
Kewaunee Nov 27 Nov 29 Dec 14
Lac Vieux Desert Oct 20 Oct 25 Nov 9
Laona Oct 21 Nov 4 Nov 17
Manitowoc Dec 9 Dec 11 Dec 26
Marinette Nov 20 Nov 28 Dec 22
Marshfield Nov 9 Nov 12 Dec 2
Merrill Nov 7 Nov 15 Nov 29
Oconto Nov 18 Nov 22 Dec 17
Oshkosh Nov 27 Dec 2 Dec 22
Rhinelander Nov 5 Nov 9 Nov 27
St Germain Oct 31 Nov 2 Nov 20
Shawano Nov 18 Nov 21 Dec 6
Stevens Point Nov 17 Nov 25 Dec 14
Sturgeon Bay Nov 20 Nov 25 Dec 16
Two Rivers Nov 27 Dec 1 Dec 16
Washington Island Nov 26 Dec 1 Dec 16
Wausau Nov 3 Nov 12 Nov 29
Wisc. Rapids Nov 17 Nov 21 Dec 2
There are many factors that can influence the average date at a particular location. During the fall and early winter, storm tracks can play a significant role between snow and rain. Along Lake Michigan and the waters of Green Bay, the warmer waters tend to keep the region several degrees above freezing resulting in a slower changeover to all snow during the fall and early winter.
Other factors than can influence the average dates include the location of the observing location that may be enclosed by trees or are in a wide open area. In addition, during the fall and early winter, volunteer observers may not measure the snowfall for several hours after the event which may allow for the snow to melt. This is especially true during the overnight hours early in the season where snow occurs and then melts before the observer makes their measurement.
FACTS FROM WINTER 2010-11
The coldest temperature in the winter of 2010-11 was -37° Fahrenheit (F) at Ladysmith 3SW (Rusk Co.) on January 22, 2011.
- The Hurley, WI–Ironwood, MI, area in Iron County had the most snow of 167 inches in the winter of 2010-11, while Waunakee in Dane County had the least with only 37.2 inches. Most of the northern two-thirds of the state had 60 to 95 inches, while the southern third had 40 to 60 inches. The 92.6″ in Green Bay during the ’10-’11 winter was the highest amount in modern-day history. Only the winters of 1889-90 and 1887-88 had more snow.
- Wisconsin’s all-time, lowest temperature is -55°F on February 2 & 4, 1996, near Couderay (Sawyer Co.). Readings of -30°F or colder have been recorded in every month from November through April. Of course, brief readings in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s are possible during winter as well!
- Average annual snowfall ranges from 35 to 40 inches near the Illinois border to 135 to 165 inches in the Iron County snow-belt from Gurney to Hurley.
Official ALL-TIME snowfall records
- Greatest daily total – 26.0 inches of snow, at Neillsville on Dec. 27, 1904, and Pell Lake on Feb. 2, 2011.
- Greatest single storm total – Superior, 31.0 inches over Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 1991.
- Greatest monthly total – Hurley, 103.5 inches in Jan. 1997.
- Greatest seasonal total – Hurley, 301.8 inches in winter of 1996-97.
- Deepest snow on ground (excluding drifts) – Hurley, 60.0 inches on Jan. 30, 1996.
Here is an interesting map. It shows the average number of major winter storms in each county per year (taken from the past 30 years or so of data). Most of the TV-9 viewing area gets 3 to 4 major storms in the winter with over 6 in parts of the Lake Superior Snowbelt.
As far as blizzards go, I found it interesting that eastern through southern Wisconsin actually has had more blizzards than the rest of the state. Part of this stems from the fact that when strong low pressure systems intensify just south of Wisconsin, strong northeast winds develop in Wisconsin. The winds speeds are typically higher in east- southeast Wisconsin because of less friction as the air crosses Lake Michigan. Plus the terrain includes a lot of farmland with open fields. This favors stronger winds as well. Thirdly lake enhancement may increase snow rates in this part of the state with certain storms which helps to reduce visibility.
Well, be sure to check in next week for more winter weather related information.
This post was written by Tony Schumacher on November 2, 2011