The Not-So-Snowy Winter of 1967-68

The lack of snow in our area so far this winter has prompted many questions about record snowfall--but rather than record high snowfall, record low snowfall. It has been a long time since we have had an exceptionally snowless winter in southern Wisconsin.  The second lowest total snowfall (see footnote below) for any season on record at both Milwaukee and Madison occurred in 1967-68, when Madison measured 12.7 inches for the season, and Milwaukee measured 12.1 inches.  This season is the only one in the last 50+ years during which less than 20 inches fell at either site. Let's take a look at the 1967-68 winter by the numbers. For the purposes of these data, when we refer to "winter," we mean the meteorological winter (December-January-February).

Item Milwaukee Madison
Winter Average Temperature (°F) 23.8 21.3
Normal Winter Average Temperature / Departure from Normal (°F) 24.1 / -0.3 21.0 / 0.3
Winter Snowfall (inches) 9.3 10.2
October-April Snowfall (inches) 12.1 12.7
Winter Days with Snow Cover of 1" or More 17 15
Winter Days with Snow Cover of 2" or More 1 8
Normal Number of Winter Days with Snow Cover of 1" or More 17 20
Normal Number of Winter Days with Snow Cover of 2" or More 14 16

While the 1967-68 winter did not bring much snow, note that the average temperatures were very close to normal.  With so few days on which snow covered the ground, we might expect the average temperatures to be warmer (since snow cover tends to keep air temperatures down), but this is not the case for 1967-68.  A closer examination of the average temperatures for the winter months indicates that December and January were a bit warmer than usual, while February was noticeably colder than usual.  The end result was a winter with an average very near normal.

 

Footnote: We ignored the totals from the snow seasons of 1883-84 at Milwaukee (5.8") and 1946-47 at Madison (7.7") because of large gaps in the observational record at these sites during these seasons, which in all likelihood artificially decreased the total snowfall.  These would be among the lowest on record at both sites, if we were to take them into consideration.  Madison's all-time lowest total was 1901-02, with only 4" of snow.  During the same season, Milwaukee recorded 24.6", coming in at ninth lowest there.

 

National Weather Service, Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI



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