Rare: Milwaukee Low Temp Below 0 °F with No Snow on the Ground (Updated 420 pm 1/22)

January 22, 2012: Milwaukee Recorded a Low Temperature Below Zero with No Snow on the Ground

The low temperature in Milwaukee this morning was -5 °F with no snow on the ground.  This is significant as it is relatively rare for Milwaukee to reach or go below 0 °F without any snow on the ground.

In fact, for Milwaukee’s full period of record (1871-2012), on average a low temperature at or below 0 °F occurs around 12 times a year.  However, if we look at the most recent 30-year period used for climate comparisons, 1981-2012, we find that Milwaukee averages about 7 days per year with a minimum temperature at or below zero.  Madison averages 15 days.

The last three years, Milwaukee has only reached 0 oF or colder on six days...twice in 2012, four times in 2011, and none in 2010 – each time with at least a trace of snow cover on the ground.

Examining the historical climate record back to only 1948, there have been only 17 instances when the low temperature in Milwaukee reached or dipped below 0 °F with no snow cover on the ground. The most recent occurrence dates back to January 20, 2008 with a low temperature of -6 °F.

Since snow depth measurements have been taken at Milwaukee Mitchell Field since 1948, there have been 705 instances where Milwaukee has reached or gone below 0 °F, 688 of which have had at least a trace on the ground. Therefore,  Milwaukee has had minimum temperatures at or below 0 °F with no snow on the ground approximately 2.4 % of the time.

The record low temperature in Milwaukee on January 22nd is -22 F in 1885.  The coldest high temperature on January 22nd is -10 F in 1883.

Note: Milwaukee area’s snow depth records only go back to 1948 and only that time period was used in the percentage calculation above.

National Weather Service - Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI

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