Winter Storm of December 20, 2008

[Snow Totals][Coldest Wind Chills]


A multi-faceted winter storm brought a variety of weather to the Upper Midwest. Three areas of low pressure crossed the region bringing snow, strong winds, blowing and drifting snow, arctic air and dangerously cold wind chills to the area. The first area of low pressure moved slowly across northern Minnesota during the day of the 20th, reaching northwest Wisconsin during the evening. The second area of low pressure developed over southwest Minnesota during the morning of the 20th, reaching the southern tip of Lake Michigan during the evening. The third area of low pressure tracked quickly from northern Oklahoma into Ohio and Pennslyvania during the day and evening. Connecting all three areas of low pressure was a strong cold front.

Snow developed during the day ahead of the areas of low pressure and cold front. The accumulating snow continued into the evening before tapering off to very light snow and flurries. Snowfall amounts across much of the region averaged 2 to 5 inches with some locally higher amounts. The highest reported amounts were 7.6 inches at Preston, Minnesota and 7.5 inches just south of Galesville, Wisconsin. See the map below for a graphical depiction of the snowfall. For this event, La Crosse received 5.2 inches of snow, pushing the December 2008 monthly total to 25.2 inches. That ranks December 2008 as the 5th snowiest on record as of the 20th. For Rochester, 7.0 inches of snow fell, raising the December 2008 monthly total to 24.9 inches, which ranks as the 3rd snowiest on record as of the 20th. The most snow ever measured in December in La Crosse was 30.4 inches in 1990. The most December snow ever measured in Rochester was 35.3 inches in 2000.

Click to Enlarge Loop

Surface Map and Radar Loop Temeprature Loop
National Surface Map and Radar Loop
From 6 AM Dec 20 to Midnight Dec 21
Temperature (green contours, colored background) and
Wind Chill (yellow plotted values) Loop
From 2 PM Sat Dec 20 to 6 AM Sun Dec 21


In addition to the snow, once the strong cold front moved through, arctic air plunged into the region with temperatures plummeting between 20 and 30 degrees in just a few hours. Along with the falling temperatures, northwest winds of 15 to 30 mph were common behind the front. The combination of the plummeting temperatures and strong winds created wind chills of 20 to 40 below zero. The strong winds also whipped up the freshly fallen snow to create blowing and drifting snow through much of the night with the largest impacts on travel over northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota. 2 to 4 foot drifts were common.

Overall, forecasts leading up to the storm provided good guidance to the public for the snow, wind, very cold wind chill, and blowing and drifting snow hazards. A Winter Storm Watch was issued around 12pm Friday for the storm with Winter Storm Warnings issued around 3 am Saturday morning for the entire area. This provided 12-18 hours of advance notice for the incoming weather hazards.

Map of December 20 2008 Snowfall

Snowfall Totals for December 20, 2008 (click to enlarge)

  

Forecast Graphic
Forecast Graphic Issued 133 PM Friday December 19, 2008 (click to enlarge)

Detailed Listing of Snowfall Totals

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LA CROSSE WI
1040 AM CST SUN DEC 21 2008

...RECENT REPORTED SNOWFALL TOTALS...

LOCATION                   SNOWFALL    TIME     LAT/LON

NORTHEAST IOWA

...ALLAMAKEE COUNTY...
DORCHESTER                 4.1         0700 AM  43.47N 91.51W
WAUKON 8NW                 4.0         0729 AM  43.34N 91.6W

...CHICKASAW COUNTY...
IONIA 2W                   1.5         0700 AM  43.03N 92.50W

...CLAYTON COUNTY...
ELKADER 6SSW               2.1         0700 AM  42.79N 91.45W

...FAYETTE COUNTY...
CLERMONT                   5.9         0700 AM  43.00N 91.66W
OELWEIN 1WNW               2.1         0650 AM  42.68N 91.93W
FAYETTE                    1.6         0700 AM  42.85N 91.82W

...FLOYD COUNTY...
CHARLES CITY COOP          2.6         0700 AM  43.08N 92.67W

...HOWARD COUNTY...
CRESCO                     6.5         0700 AM  43.37N 92.11W
ELMA                       2.7         0700 AM  43.24N 92.44W

...WINNESHIEK COUNTY...
DECORAH 8ENE               3.5         0858 AM  43.33N 91.7W

SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA

...DODGE COUNTY...
DODGE CENTER               5.5         0700 AM  44.04N 92.88W

...FILLMORE COUNTY...
PRESTON                    7.6         0700 AM  43.67N 92.07W
LANESBORO                  5.3         0700 AM  43.72N 91.97W
PETERSON 1S                4.0         0639 AM  43.78N 91.82W

...HOUSTON COUNTY...
CALEDONIA 6S               5.0         0700 AM  43.55N 91.51W
CALEDONIA                  4.6         0700 AM  43.63N 91.50W

...MOWER COUNTY...
GRAND MEADOW               6.3         0700 AM  43.71N 92.56W

...OLMSTED COUNTY...
ROCHESTER AP 2NE           7.0         0700 AM  43.93N 92.48W
ELGIN 2SSW                 4.9         0700 AM  44.10N 92.27W

...WABASHA COUNTY...
THEILMAN 1SSW              5.9         0700 AM  44.28N 92.19W
ZUMBRO FALLS               5.1         0700 AM  44.29N 92.42W
WABASHA                    3.0         0700 AM  44.39N 92.05W

...WINONA COUNTY...
WINONA 4S                  4.5         0833 AM  44.01N 91.66W
WINONA DAM 5A              3.0         0700 AM  44.09N 91.67W

SOUTHWEST AND CENTRAL WISCONSIN

...ADAMS COUNTY...
FRIENDSHIP 10NE            4.5         0420 AM  44.04N 89.63W
MONROE CENTER              3.5         0700 AM  44.11N 89.92W

...BUFFALO COUNTY...
MONDOVI 6S                 4.5         0700 AM  44.48N 91.67W

...CLARK COUNTY...
NEILLSVILLE 3SW            4.0         0700 AM  44.53N 90.64W
OWEN 2N                    3.8         0700 AM  44.98N 90.55W
LONGWOOD                   3.5         0810 AM  44.89N 90.6W
COLBY 4SW                  3.0         0919 AM  44.87N 90.42W

...GRANT COUNTY...
LANCASTER                  2.3         0841 AM  42.84N 90.71W

...JACKSON COUNTY...
BLACK RIVER FALLS STP      5.0         0700 AM  44.29N 90.85W
TAYLOR                     4.0         0700 AM  44.32N 91.12W
MATHER 3NW                 4.0         0700 AM  44.17N 90.35W
HATFIELD                   4.0         0700 AM  44.42N 90.73W

...JUNEAU COUNTY...
MAUSTON                    4.0         0658 AM  43.80N 90.08W
NECEDAH 2SE                3.9         0700 AM  44.00N 90.04W

...LA CROSSE COUNTY...
LA CROSSE 5SE              6.5         0700 AM  43.77N 91.15W
LA CROSSE WFO              5.2         0700 AM  43.82N 91.19W
LA CROSSE 4NNW             5.0         0700 AM  43.87N 91.27W
HOLMEN 2S                  4.7         0700 AM  43.93N 91.25W

...MONROE COUNTY...
WARRENS 5WSW               6.5         0700 AM  44.10N 90.59W
FOUR CORNERS               5.0         0700 AM  44.07N 90.92W
TUNNEL CITY 1S             4.3         0700 AM  44.01N 90.57W

...RICHLAND COUNTY...
RICHLAND CENTER            3.2         0700 AM  43.32N 90.38W

...TAYLOR COUNTY...
MEDFORD                    4.0         0700 AM  45.13N 90.34W

...TREMPEALEAU COUNTY...
GALESVILLE 1S              7.5         0700 AM  44.06N 91.36W
BLAIR                      4.0         0700 AM  44.29N 91.22W

...VERNON COUNTY...
WESTBY 3ENE                4.3         0700 AM  43.68N 90.81W
HILLSBORO                  4.1         0700 AM  43.65N 90.33W
LA FARGE                   3.7         0700 AM  43.57N 90.64W

OBSERVATIONS ARE COLLECTED FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES WITH VARYING
EQUIPMENT AND EXPOSURE. NOT ALL DATA LISTED IS CONSIDERED OFFICIAL.

FOR THIS...AND A WEALTH OF OTHER RIVER AND WEATHER INFORMATION...
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT  WEATHER.GOV/LACROSSE

Detailed Listing of the Coldest Wind Chills Reached
(12 pm Sat Dec 20 - 12 pm Sun Dec 21)

STATION COUNTY TIME WIND CHILL
GRAND MEADOW - KIMT       MOWER             715 AM    -47 F
CENTURY HIGH SCHOOL AWS OLMSTED 344 AM -43 F
MONONA HS AWS CLAYTON 614 AM -43 F
WEST UNION AWS FAYETTE 814 AM -41 F
WEST CONCORD - KIMT DODGE 635 AM -41 F
ROCHESTER ASOS OLMSTED 554 AM -40 F
PRESTON KIMT FILLMORE 234 AM -40 F
FENNIMORE ELEMENTARY AWS GRANT 830 AM -39 F
MOUNT STERLING 1S RWIS CRAWFORD 508 AM -39 F
NEW HAMPTON RWIS CHICKASAW 502 AM -39 F
CANTON RWIS FILLMORE 344 AM -39 F
DODGE CENTER AWOS DODGE 1235 AM -39 F
KELLOGG RWIS WABASHA 224 AM -39 F
ROCHESTER KELLOGG - KIMT OLMSTED 635 AM -39 F
DECORAH 2SE RWIS WINNESHIEK 205 AM -38 F
AUSTIN AWOS MOWER 155 AM -38 F
ARCADIA HILL RWIS TREMPEALEAU 509 AM -38 F
CRESCO KIMT HOWARD 755 AM -38 F
NEW HAMPTON AWS CHICKASAW 729 AM -38 F
WILLOW CREEK - KIMT OLMSTED 814 AM -38 F
NWS LA CROSSE LA CROSSE 634 AM -37 F
FRIENDSHIP AWS ADAMS 714 AM -37 F
JOHN ADAMS - KIMT OLMSTED 535 AM -37 F
WSU CAMPUS AWS WINONA 529 AM -37 F
VOLK FIELD JUNEAU 733 AM -37 F
RICHLAND CENTER AWS RICHLAND 814 AM -37 F
PRESTON AWOS FILLMORE 559 AM -37 F
DIAMOND LAKE RAWS TAYLOR 714 AM -36 F
LOYAL SCHOOL AWS CLARK 859 AM -36 F
STANLEY 1 SE RWIS CHIPPEWA 823 AM -36 F
OELWEIN AWOS FAYETTE 455 AM -35 F
SOUTH WINNESHIEK SCHOOL WINNESHIEK 729 AM -35 F
CHARLES CITY AWOS FLOYD 115 AM -35 F
ALMA AWS BUFFALO 744 AM -35 F
MEDFORD AWOS TAYLOR 715 AM -35 F
PLAINFIELD AWS CHICKASAW 659 AM -34 F
OSAGE - KIMT MITCHELL 1255 AM -34 F
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN AWOS CRAWFORD 755 AM -34 F
WISC DELLS AWOS SAUK 915 AM -34 F
LA CROSSE ASOS LA CROSSE 353 AM -34 F
BUFFALO LUTHERAN AWS BUFFALO 359 AM -34 F
NECEDAH RAWS JUNEAU 948 AM -34 F
BLACK RIVER FALLS RWIS JACKSON 808 AM -33 F
I-90 AT I-94 RWIS JUNEAU 805 AM -33 F
TOMAH 4N RWIS MONROE 706 AM -33 F
5W TOMAH RWIS MONROE 708 AM -32 F
CRESTWOOD AWS HOWARD 427 AM -32 F
MAUSTON APRS JUNEAU 748 AM -31 F
DECORAH AWOS WINNESHIEK 615 AM -31 F
WINONA AWOS WINONA 354 AM -31 F
EASTERN ALLAMAKEE SCHOOL ALLAMAKEE 114 AM -30 F
PLAINVIEW AWS WABASHA 529 AM -30 F
SPARTA AWOS MONROE 455 AM -30 F
DICKEYVILLE RWIS GRANT 902 AM -30 F
ALBERT LEA - KIMT FREEBORN 415 AM -29 F
BLACK RIVER FALLS RAWS JACKSON 415 AM -29 F
CALEDONIA RWIS HOUSTON 516 AM -29 F
MCGREGOR MS AWS CLAYTON 544 AM -28 F
LA CROSSE 1S APRS LA CROSSE 726 AM -28 F
BOSCOBEL ASOS GRANT 848 AM -27 F
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN RWIS CRAWFORD 207 AM -27 F
RICEVILLE - KIMT HOWARD 916 AM -26 F
3N LA CRESCENT APRS HOUSTON 749 AM -25 F


KEY TO OBSERVATION TYPES

AWS - SENSORS FROM AWS INCORPORATED. OFTEN LOCATED AT SCHOOLS.
RWIS - ROAD WEATHER INFORMATION SYSTEMS. LOCATED ON MAJOR ROADS AND BRIDGES.
RAWS - FIRE WEATHER OBSERVATIONS. OFTEN LOCATED IN FORESTS.
ASOS/AWOS - AVIATION WEATHER OBSERVATIONS. LOCATED AT AIRPORTS.


OBSERVATIONS ARE COLLECTED FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES WITH VARYING EQUIPMENT
AND EXPOSURE. NOT ALL DATA LISTED IS CONSIDERED OFFICIAL.


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