2006 Wisconsin Weather Highlights

 

2006 Temp Extremes
Temperature Extremes
2006 Major Winter Storms
Major Winter Storms
2006 Wisconsin Tornadoes
Wisconsin Tornadoes

 


General Wisconsin Weather Summary For 2006 

Wisconsin’s overall weather pattern in 2006 was warm and stormy, but the tornado count was significantly lower than in 2005.

The year started quiet and extremely warm for much of Wisconsin.  Despite some moderate lake effect snow events across the Northwoods and one major snow storm for the extreme southeast corner of the state, January was void of any typical major winter snow storms for most.  Average monthly temperatures were near records for every climate site in the state.  Some notable temperature departures include 15.2° in La Crosse, 14.9° in Green Bay, 14.3° in Madison, 13.7° in Wausau, 13.4° in Rhinelander, and 13.3° in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee’s lowest temperature recorded in January 2006 was only 19 degrees!

The pattern changed rapidly for February.  A couple major snow storms engulfed portions of the state and temperatures returned to winter levels.  One major winter storm occurred in two rounds, one during the afternoon and evening of February 15 and another during the day February 16.  Total snowfall ranged from 6 to 14.5 inches across almost all of central and southern Wisconsin, with blizzard conditions in northeast Wisconsin.  After this winter storm, the coldest temperatures in several winters surged south from the evening of February 17 through the morning of February 19.  Low temperatures ranged from around -15 to -31 on February 15, with high temperatures well below zero in most areas.  Consult the 2006 extreme temperature map for some temperatures for larger cities.  To wind down February, another winter storm affected parts of northwest Wisconsin.  Six to 12 inches of snow fell within 24 hours, with some rates exceeding 2 inches per hour at times.  Over 12 inches fell just inland from Lake Superior in Iron County.  Average temperatures for February were around normal or slightly on the colder side for much of the state.

March came in like a lion with heavy snow on March 5 for a relatively small portion of southwest Wisconsin.  Six to 8 inches fell from a quick heavy snow storm.  Severe weather season started early for southern Wisconsin as a system brought some large hail on March 11.  The same pattern that brought severe weather to southern Wisconsin brought a very significant snow storm to northern Wisconsin on March 12 and 13.  Widespread snow amounts of 10 to 20 inches came with the system, with 23 inches of system snow fell in Haugen (Barron County).  In addition to the synoptic snow, Lake Superior added an extra punch, resulting in a bullseye of 25 to 32 inches along the south shore in Ashland and Iron Counties, from Mellen to Hurley.  Considerable blowing and drifting snow resulted from winds gusting to around 35 mph.  Locals say it was the worst storm in 20 years!

Winter began to subside quickly for April as spring began in full force.  Temperatures ranged from 4 to 6 degrees above average across the Badger state and the month was more or less snow-free.  A group of record-setting hail storms pelted much of southern Wisconsin on April 13.  Three large supercell thunderstorms developed and tracked across the south during the afternoon and evening hours.  One supercell tracked across southern Iowa County to along the Beltline, just south of Madison, across northern Jefferson County, northern Waukesha County, and ultimately dissipated over southern Ozaukee County and northern Milwaukee County.  Hail up to 4.25 inches in diameter fell in Jefferson County within this storm.  Another storm 5 miles southwest of Hilbert in Calumet County produced a microburst with winds of 95 to 100 mph (Category 2 hurricane-force).  The combined damage estimates from the thunderstorms across the state topped 160 million dollars. 

May was a transition month.  Winter still clung on to give one more bout of lake effect snow for north central Wisconsin on May 11.  Up to 10 inches of snow fell in Upson.  Other areas of light snow produced up to an inch across central and southern Wisconsin to wrap up the winter season.  About a week later, summer arrived with high temperatures in the 70s, 80s, and even some 90s to end the month. 


 ...SUMMARY OF 2006 WEATHER-RELATED FATALITIES AND INJURIES...

IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE....BUT WISCONSIN DID EXPERIENCE ENOUGH
SEVERE WEATHER AND HEAT WAVES IN 2006 TO RESULT IN SOME DIRECTLY
RELATED FATALITIES AND INJURIES.

ALTHOUGH THE TOAL OF 13 TORNADOES IN WISCONSIN IN 2006 WAS WELL
BELOW THE YEARLY AVERAGE OF 21...THERE WERE AN ABOVE NORMAL NUMBER
OF SEVERE STORMS WITH DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL ACROSS
WISCONSIN. IN ADDITION...MID-JULY AND LATE JULY-EARLY AUGUST HEAT
WAVES HAD AN EFFECT.

BELOW IS THE PRELIMINARY TOTALS...WHERE WEATHER WAS A DIRECT CAUSE.

EVENT TYPE FATALITIES INJURIES
-------------------------------------------------------------------
TORNADO 0 1 /2 ADDITIONAL INDIRECT INJURIES/
TSTM WINDS 1 2
LIGHTNING 1 4
HEAT 3 43 /PEOPLE WHO HAD MEDICAL TREATMENT/
FLOODS 0 0
-------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTALS 5 50

FATALITIES AND INJURIES RESULTING FROM VEHICLE ACCIDENTS IN ADVERSE
WINTER-WEATHER DRIVING CONDITIONS WERE EXCLUDED FROM THE TALLY ABOVE.


June featured drought intensification across northern Wisconsin to severe status after several weather 
systems bypassed portions of the Northwoods.  Rhinelander officially recorded only 0.48 inches for the 
month (3.45” below normal), Eau Claire recorded 1.82 inches (2.45” below normal), and Wausau recorded 
2.79 inches (1.39” below normal).  July brought nearly continuous waves of severe thunderstorms producing 
damaging winds and large hail.  A record number of severe weather events were noted in the Milwaukee/Sullivan
county warning area.  Flash flooding occurred in Madison and Waukesha on July 27th after slow-moving 
thunderstorms dumped 3 to 5 inches of rain within 1 to 1.5 hours in the afternoon hours.  Numerous buildings 
and vehicles sustained water damage in Madison where water depths on some streets reached 4 to 5 feet.
It was almost as bad in the city of Waukesha.

In July, drought was reduced to moderate status due to periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms, bringing very beneficial rains to the southern part of the state. However the drought persisted over the northwestern part of the state.  A prolonged period of very hot weather then developed during the middle and latter parts of July.  Many stations recorded their first 100 degree high in several years with the highest temperature of 105 degrees in Hurley on July 15.  The hot weather continued through August 1st across the south.  Monthly temperature averages were 3 to 6 degrees above normal for July. It was the warmest month in La Crosse since July 1980!

After the very active severe weather month of July, the period of August through October was rather quiet again with only a few severe weather events.  Most stations had near normal rainfall with near normal temperatures, until October when temperatures became cooler than normal.  Average monthly temperatures for most stations were 2 to 5 degrees below normal.

The first winter storm of the season affected most of northern Wisconsin from October 11th through October 13th – a rather early start.  The storm brought widespread system snow amounts of 3 to 6 inches from near Spooner eastward to around Phelps with an isolated total of 10 inches in the highest elevations of southeast Price County (Timm’s Hill).  After the system snow ended, lake-effect snow began as cold air wrapped around the system and produced an additional 6 to 10 inches of snow over Iron and northwest Vilas counties.  A total of 16 to 17 inches accumulated in northern Iron County.

The second winter storm of the season affected west central to northeast Wisconsin on November 9th and 10th.  The heaviest snow fell from around Alma (13.0 inches), to Osseo (16.5 inches), to Owen (9.5 inches), to Tomahawk (10.0 inches), to Crandon (14.0 inches), to Florence (8.0 inches).  Wrap around snow and sleet occurred southeast of this line with widespread accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.  Lightning and thunder occasionally accompanied this precipitation north of I-94.  November started off on the cool side, but the last half of the month was warmer than normal, with many readings in the 50s to lower 60s over the southern counties during the last week.

A major winter storm/blizzard hit the southeast and east-central parts of the state on December 1st.  Accumulations ranged from 6 to 17 inches.  Thunder and lightning occurred near the Lake Michigan shoreline. Winds gusted to 30 to 40 mph near Lake Michigan which resulted in 2 to 4 foot drifts.  Cold weather settled across the Badger state after the storm, and eventually minimum temperatures dropped into the single digits to 10 below zero on December 5th.


....2006 WISCONSIN TORNADOES...

COUNTY DATE TIME(CDT) LOCATION F-SCALE
1. RICHLAND 5/24 457 PM 2.0 SW RICHLAND CENTER F0
2. SAUK 5/24 553 PM 4.5 SW DEVILS LAKE F0
3. IOWA 6/6 653-655 PM 2.8 SW HELENA F0
4. COLUMBIA 6/6 654-740 PM 3.0 E WI DELLS - F1
...SAUK 1.0 SW DEKORRA
5. IOWA 6/6 714-725 PM 5.6 NNW RIDGEWAY - F0
...................................3.3 NNE RIDGEWAY
6. IOWA 6/6 733-735 PM 2.0 W BARNEVELD F0
...................................1.8 WSW BARNVELD
7. DANE 6/18 222 PM 3.4 SW STOUGHTON F0
8. DODGE 6/18 226-239 PM 1.5 SE RUBICON F1
...WASHINGTON 2.7 SE HARTFORD
9. CALUMET 6/24 514-515 PM 4.0 W SHERWOOD F0
10.FOND DU LAC 7/3 128 PM 0.7 W ALTO F0
11.SAUK 8/23 902 PM 2.0 SSE LELAND F0
12.ROCK 8/26 633 PM 3.8 WSW CLINTON F0
13.ST. CROIX 9/23 234-239 PM 3.0 NW ROBERTS F0

TOTAL...13(30-YEAR AVERAGE PER YEAR=21, BASED ON 1971-2000 DATA)
SUMMARY - TWO F1 TORNADOES
- ELEVEN F0 TORNADOES
NOTE: IN THE "LOCATION" COLUMN, THE DISTANCES, IN TENTHS OF MILES, IS
CALCULATED FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER OF THE CITY/VILLAGE ("DOWNTOWN"
LOCATION), NOT FROM THE EDGE OF THE CITY/VILLAGE LIMITS.

After the very active severe weather month of July, August, September, and October became quiet again with only a few severe weather events.  Most stations had near normal rainfall with near normal temperatures, until October when temperatures became cooler than normal.  Average monthly temperatures for most stations were 2 to 5 degrees below normal.

The first winter storm of the season affected most of northern Wisconsin from October 11th through October 13th - a rather early start. The storm brought widespread system snow amounts of 3 to 6 inches from near Spooner eastward to around Phelps with an isolated total of 10 inches in the highest elevations of southeast Price County (Timm's Hill).  After the system snow ended, lake effect snow began as cold air wrapped around the system and produced an additional 6 to 10 inches of snow over Iron and northwest Vilas counties.  A total of 16 to 17 inches accumulated in northern Iron County.

The second winter storm of the season affected west central to northeast Wisconsin on November 9th and 10th.  The heaviest snow fell from around Alma (13.0 inches), to Osseo (16.5 inches), to Owen (9.5 inches), to Tomahawk (10.0 inches), to Crandon (14.0 inches), to Florence (8.0 inches).  Wrap around snow and sleet occurred southeast of this line widespread accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.  Lightning and thunder occasionally accompanied this precipitation north of I-94.  November started off on the cool side, but the last half of the month was warmer than normal, with many readings in the 50s to lower 60s over the southern counties during the last week.

A major winter storm/blizzard hit the southeast and east-central parts of the state on December 1st.  Accumulations ranged from 6 to 17 inches.  Thunder and lightning occurred near the Lake Michigan shoreline. Winds gusted to 30 to 40 mph near Lake Michigan which resulted in 2 to 4 foot drifts.  Cold weather settled across the Badger state after the storm, and eventually minimum temperatures dropped into the single digits to 10 below zero on December 5th.


Chronological Highlight Of Top Weather Events Across Wisconsin

To qualify for involvement in this list, winter storms must have produced greater than a foot of accumulation (or less with wind affects and not including lake effect) or significant icing, prolonged extremely hot or cold temperatures which came close to or broke records, severe weather outbreaks of all kinds, and drought.

Top Weather Events of 2006

(In order of occurrence)

  1.)        January’s Abnormal Warm Conditions and Lack of Snow.

January was void of any typical major winter snow storms for most; however, abnormally warm temperatures affected the entire state.  In some locations, January 2006 was the warmest January ever recorded.  Some notable temperature departures include 15.2° in La Crosse, 14.9° in Green Bay, 14.3° in Madison, 13.7° in Wausau, 13.4° in Rhinelander, and 13.3° in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee’s lowest temperature recorded in January 2006 was only 19 degrees!  Both Milwaukee and Madison smashed the longest streak for highs at or above 30 degrees during the winter months of December, January, and February with 57 days (Dec. 22 - Feb. 16) and 44 days (Dec. 22 - Feb. 3) respectively.  The previous records were 31 and 29 days.  Because of the warm temperatures, the ground was able to thaw and allow higher than normal moisture values in the atmosphere to produce a record breaking cloudy streak at Milwaukee of 17 days (Dec. 24 to Jan. 9).  ).  Less than two inches of snow fell across portions of west central and southwest Wisconsin.  This was least snow ever recorded in January in many locations.  La Crosse only received 1.6 inches of snow, tying their 1903 record for the least snow ever reported in a January.

  2.)        February 15-16th Major Winter Storm/Blizzard.

One major winter storm occurred in two rounds, one during the afternoon and evening of February 15 and another during the day February 16.  Widespread heavy snow occurred mainly north of a line from Janesville to Waukesha to just north of Milwaukee.  Just south of that line, total snowfall ranged from 6 to 14.5 inches across almost all of central and southern Wisconsin.  The highest total was 14.5 inches at Poy Sippi (Waushara Co.).  

3.)        February 17-19th Bitterly Cold Temperatures.

The coldest temperatures in several winters surged south from the evening of February 17 through the morning of February 19.  Low temperatures ranged from around -15 to -31 at a location 2 miles northeast of Necedah on February 18, with high temperatures well below zero in most areas.  Consult the 2006 extreme temperature map for some specific temperatures for larger cities. 

  4.)        February 24-25th Heavy Snow.

A winter storm affected parts of northwest Wisconsin on February 24th and 25th.  Six to 12 inches of snow fell within 24 hours, with some rates exceeding 2 inches per hour at times.  Over 12 inches fell just inland from Lake Superior in Iron County due to lake-enhancement moisture ingested by the system snow. 

  5.)        March 5th Heavy Snow.

      March came in like a lion with heavy snow on March 5 for a relatively small portion of southwest Wisconsin.  Six to 8 inches fell from a quick heavy snow storm. 

6.)        March 12-14th Winter Storm.

A very significant snow storm slammed northern Wisconsin on March 12 and 13 after producing severe thunderstorms over southern Wisconsin on March 11th.  Widespread snow amounts of 10 to 20 inches came with the system, with 23 inches of system snow in Haugen (Barron County).  In addition to the synoptic snow, Lake Superior added an extra punch, resulting in a bullseye of 25 to 32 inches along the south shore in Ashland and Iron Counties, from Mellen to Hurley.  Considerable blowing and drifting snow resulted from winds gusting to around 35 mph.  Locals say it was the worst storm in 20 years!

7.)        April 13th hail storms.

On April 13th, three supercell hailstorms and a downburst wind event resulted in the most costly storm day in Wisconsin’s history.  One of three supercell thunderstorms tracked from southern Iowa County to along the Beltline just south of Madison, across northern Jefferson County, through northern Waukesha County, and dissipated over southern Ozaukee County and northern Milwaukee County.  Hail up to 4.25 inches in diameter fell in Jefferson County within this storm.  Additionally, another storm 5 miles southwest of Hilbert in Calumet County produced a microburst with winds of 95 to 100 mph (Category 2 hurricane-force).  The combined damage estimates from the thunderstorms across the state topped 160 million dollars. 

  8.)        Northern Wisconsin Drought.

June featured drought intensification across northern Wisconsin to severe status after several weather systems bypassed portions of the Northwoods.  Rhinelander officially recorded only 0.48 inches for the month (3.45” below normal), Eau Claire recorded 1.82 inches (2.45” below normal), and Wausau recorded 2.79 inches (1.39” below normal).  Federal disaster assistance was required for several counties due to widespread crop losses.  This drought persisted into December across northwestern Wisconsin.

  9.)        July 27th Flash Floods – Southern Wisconsin (One-in-a-hundred year floods).

A major flash flood occurred over the Madison metropolitan area where 3 to 5 inches of rain was measured.  Some of the worst flooding affected the UW-Madison campus area where several dozens of buildings sustained damage.  Many vehicles were damaged as water reached 4 to 5 feet in depth in low spots.  Another area of heavy rain was located over southern Dane county... between Verona and Belleville. Radar estimated 4 to 6 inches of rain fell in this area.  The third flash flood was over central Waukesha County...in and around the city of Waukesha.  Three to five inches of rain fell in and near the city of Waukesha, resulting in flooded roads and buildings.  The Fox River in downtown Waukesha also exceeded flood stage for a couple hours after a rapid rise in river levels.

10.)   Flash Flood on September 12thJefferson County.

       Flash flooding occurred over parts of northwest and north-central Jefferson County on September 12th, after a series of thunderstorms dumped 4 to over 6 inches of rain between Watertown and the Lake Mills-Johnson Creek area.  Several roads were closed after flood waters rose to 2 to 4 feet.  Some shoulder washouts occurred on flooded roads and basement and building flooding was reported.  A rain-gage in Milford on the Crawford River picked up 6.21 inches of rain.

  11.)   Mid-Late July/Early August Heat Waves.

A prolonged period of very hot weather developed during the middle and latter parts of July.  Many stations recorded their first 100 degree high in several years, with the highest temperature being 105 degrees in Hurley on July 15.  Lows remained in the lower 80s in the Milwaukee Metro areas during the overnights of July 31st and August 1st.  Heat index readings ranged from 100 to 110 across Wisconsin during the hottest afternoons.  La Crosse had a high temperature of 102 degrees on July 31st.  This was their hottest temperature since July 14, 1995 when the high temperature was 103 degrees.  The hot weather finally broke on August 2nd.         

12.)   Early October Severe Weather.   

         Several rounds of severe storms affected the southern half of Wisconsin on October 1st, 2nd, and 4th.  Normally, the last month for severe weather is September.  Hailstones up to golfball size were reported and some storms had wind gusts to 65 mph which toppled trees.

 13.)  Oct 11-13 Early-season Snow Northern Wisconsin.

         A very early snow storm affected northern Wisconsin during the period from Oct 11th into the early morning hours of October 13th.  Initially, system snow of 3 to 6 inches accumulated.  Colder air coming in the backside of the storm generated additional lake-effect snow over the counties of Ashland, Iron, and Vilas.  Maximum accumulations ranged up to 16 to 17 inches in northern Iron County.  The top of Wisconsin’s highest point – Timm’s Hill, received 10 inches.

  14.)   November 9-10th Major Winter Storm

The second winter storm of the season affected west central to northeast Wisconsin on November 9th and 10th.  The heaviest snow fell from around Alma (13.0 inches), to Osseo (16.5 inches), to Owen (9.5 inches), to Tomahawk (10.0 inches), to Crandon (14.0 inches), to Florence (8.0 inches).    Wrap around snow and sleet occurred southeast of this line with widespread accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.  Lightning and thunder occasionally accompanied the snow and sleet north of I-94.

 

 15.)   December 1st Snowstorm and Blizzard

         On the very first day of our meteorological winter, December 1st, the southeast and east-central parts of the state were hammered with a winter storm that deposited 6 inches or more of snow east of a line from Brodhead to Juneau to Two Rivers.  Snow amounts exceeded a foot over parts of Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Racine, and Kenosha counties.  A maximum of 17 inches was measured at the Kenosha U.S. Coast Guard Station.  Outright blizzard conditions existed during the morning hours within 5 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline in the counties of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, where visibilities were zero to ¼ mile and north winds gusted to 40 mph.  Thunder and lightning was noted near Lake Michigan as well.  Many schools were closed, and other social activities and sports were cancelled. 

  Other Miscellaneous Information

(Not in order of occurrence or importance)

1.)          2005-2006 Winter Snowfall.

As seems to be the trend over the past several years, most of Wisconsin recorded below average seasonal snowfall.  Generally, snowfall deficits averaged up to 10 to 15 inches at some locations.  Some snowfall totals include Hurley with 147.0 inches, Eagle River with 81.7 inches, Rhinelander with 64.8 inches, Hayward with 55.7 inches, Park Falls with 49.5 inches, Madison with 47.6 inches, La Crosse with 39.8 inches, Green Bay with 38.0 inches, Milwaukee with 37.9 inches, and Eau Claire with 36.2 inches.

2.)          Tornadoes.

         After a record-setting 62 tornadoes in Wisconsin in 2005, things really quieted down in the tornado department for 2006.  A total of 13 tornadoes were documented, with all but one in the southern half of the state.  Two of the tornadoes were rated F1, and the others were rated F0.  Iowa County had 3 tornadoes on June 6th, but the longest-lived tornado in the state occurred in Columbia County on the same day.  This F1 twister started just east of Wisconsin Dells and moved southeast to clip Sauk County, and then re-entered Sauk County and dissipated near Dekorra.  The other F1 tornado visited the south side of Hartford, and resulted in 4 million in damage. One person suffered directly-related injuries, and two other people were indirectly injured by the Hartford tornado.

 3.)          The Yearly Maximum and Minimum Temperatures Across the State.

The coldest temperature recorded in Wisconsin during 2006 thus far has been -33 degrees at a location 2 miles northeast of Necedah in Juneau County on February 18th and at Big Falls Hydro on February 20th.  The warmest temperature recorded in Wisconsin during 2006 was 105 degrees at Hayward in Sawyer County on July 15.
 

Some other extreme temperatures across the state include a low temperature of -12 on February 18th and a high temperature of 98 on July 31st at Milwaukee, Madison with -17 on February 18th and 95 on July 31st, Green Bay with -17 on February 18th and 98 on July 15th, Wausau with -22 on February 18th and 98 on July 15th and July 31st, Rhinelander with -28 on February 18th and 100 on July 15th, Eau Claire with -17 on February 18th and 103 on July 31st, and La Crosse with -21 on February 18th and 102 on July 31st.

 

 

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