Lack of cold this winter compared to recent ones

January 13, 2019 0 Comments



Through January 13th, 2019 the Wausau Downtown Airport (and most of central Wisconsin) has not recorded a below zero temperature yet for the winter.  You might be wondering how unusual this really is?  I pulled up the temperature data for the past five winters up to this point in the season to get a handle on that.

Number of days with temperature dropping below zero degrees F, from November 1st to January 13th.

2017-18:   15

2016-17:   12

2015-16:   1

2014-15:   13

2013-14:   42

5-Year Average = 16.6 days

As you can see, we definitely have had many fewer really cold days this winter so far compared to the 5-year average.  However three winters ago was quite warm, with just one day with subzero temperatures through January 13th.  Perhaps you recall that December of 2015 was the warmest and wettest December on record for the Wausau area.  November 2015 was the 6th warmest on record.  We had a strong El Nino in place that fall and winter which likely contributed to the very warm trend.

On the other hand, who can forget the absolutely brutal winter of 2013-14?  We actually have a button in our weather office that says, “I survived the winter of 2013-14.”  Can you believe we recorded 42 days with subzero temperatures from November 1st to January 13th in that winter?  Not only was it super cold, we also had a lot of snow.  It was one for the ages no doubt.  You might recall that was the winter that the term “polar vortex” became all the buzz in the media.  The polar vortex, which exists every year in high latitudes, wobbled south a lot and parked itself into the United States.

So will we keep on this super mild pace this winter, or will we revert over to 2013-14 like levels?  The answer most likely lies somewhere in between.  There are signs that the steering current will start to flow in from northern Canada down through the central and eastern United States in late January and early February.  This should result in a good number of cold days, even some low temperatures well below zero.  I doubt that it will last too long given that a weak El Nino is forming.  Stay tuned, we will track it like a hawk for you on News 9!


About the Author:

StormTrak9 Meteorologist with WAOW-TV in Wausau, WI. Also the owner of Great Lakes Weather Service, LLC.

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