Year In Review 3

December 31, 2008 0 Comments

Justinloew Because of the dry and fluffy nature of the snow yesterday, it piled up more than expected. By the end of the day the official total in Wausau reached 7.3 inches! If you were reading the blog yesterday, you will immediately recognize that 7.3 inches is a record for December 30th. The old record was 5.9 inches set back in 1972. If you melt down the snow and measure the water content, it was 0.61 inches, which was also a record for December 30th. If you have been following along this week you know that we only needed 2.2 inches to break the old record monthly snowfall for December. Adding the 7.3 inches to our total brings it up to 36.9 inches. This smashes the old record of 31.7 inches set back in 1990. Amazingly this total also breaks the record for the snowiest month EVER RECORDED in Wausau! The old record was 36.2 inches set back in March of 1956. Most of my life I have heard stories about how cold and snowy it was "back in the old days", and it really was much colder and there were some very snowy winters from the late 1800s through the middle of the 1900s. We have experienced generally warmer conditions in the last 2 to 3 decades, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get cold and snow from time-to-time even record breaking snow. I lived through one of the coldest periods of weather in Wausau’s history in late January and early February of 1996. We had more than 5 days in a row when the temperature did not rise above zero. During that stretch we also recorded the coldest high temperature in Wausau. The mercury only reached -20! I was working on that day. It was amazing! Compare that to this year when the coldest temperature all year was -19 (and that was a low temperature, not the high temperature for the day). Now I can say I lived through the snowiest month ever recorded in Wausau’s history. It is interesting to note that the record was broken not by a couple of big storms but by a succession of small storms and a lot of dry fluffy snow.

Yesterday I mentioned that it was amazing that we had more than 90 inches of snow in 2008 yet no snowstorms that produced more than 6 inches on any one day. The most was 5.8 inches. Now we can say the heaviest snowstorm of 2008 was 7.3 inches. So how much precipitation was there in 2008? How about the average temperature? Here are the nearly final stats for 2008. I am assuming a low temperature today of -6 and a high temp of 9 along with no precipitation.

Average High: 51.6  (normal: 53.6)

Average Low: 31.8  (normal 33.6)

Average Overall Temp: 41.7  (normal: 43.6)

Total Precipitation: 27.63"  (normal: 33.36")

Total Snowfall: 97.7"  (normal: 58.6")

Highest Temp: 89 on August 18th

Lowest Temp: -19 on January 19th, January 20th, and February 21st

Unfortunately 2008 was the 6th year in a row with below normal precipitation. Severe drought developed in the late summer. We are overdue for a wet year. Maybe 2009 will be the one. This was the second time this decade that we did not officially hit 90 degrees. Looking back through the record books it seems this happens less than once a decade on average so to have 2 years without 90 degrees since 2000 is a little unusual. It was one of the coldest years in recent memory. Nearly 2 degrees below normal is quite significant.

What about the future? It looks like the off-and-on snow will continue as we head into the new year but right now it doesn’t look like any big storms. We could end up with an inch or so of snow tomorrow and maybe 2 to 3 inches on Saturday. As far as temps go, they will be up and down. High temps will be in the 5 to 15 range today, Friday, and Sunday, and near 20 on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday. We could have a couple nights below zero (including tonight) but nothing bitter cold such as -15 or -20.

I was going to go through some of the big weather stories of the year, but alas I have run out of time. Besides, the biggest story of the year was AGW and who wants to hear more doom-and-gloom? Maybe I will cover some of the latest AGW headlines and update the "big list" on Friday (no entry tomorrow).

Have a Happy New Year! Meteorologist Justin Loew.

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