Winter/February Wrap-Up and the Spring Outlook (Updated 12 PM 3/2)

With the end of February, meteorological winter (December-February) has come to an end.

Good news for the drought, however, as this has actually been one of the top 10 wettest winters-to-date in Milwaukee and in Madison. Below is an overview of what it has been like in southeast and south central Wisconsin this winter:

 Milwaukee   Madison
Rank Precipitation Years Rank Precipitation Years
1 11.13" 1875-76 1 9.27" 1885-86
2 10.51" 1973-74 2 9.07" 2007-08
3 10.09" 1885-86 3 8.94" 1884-85
4 10.07" 2012-13 4 8.74" 1886-87
5 9.96" 1987-88 5 8.64" 1880-81
6 9.94" 1959-60 6 7.88" 2012-13
7 9.35" 1937-38 7 7.68" 1897-98
8 9.30" 1897-98 8 7.34" 1869-70
9 8.62" 2007-08 9 7.28" 1887-88
10 8.57" 1917-18 10 7.27" 1936-37

The maps below, from the Midwest Regional Climate Center, show the percent of mean precipitation for each of the winter months. As you can see, we have had above normal precipitation each month. Milwaukee had the 7th wettest December, the 17th wettest January, and the 15th wettest February. Madison had the 18th wettest December, 9th wettest January, and 17th wettest February. Click each map for a larger version.

December percent of mean precipitation January percent of mean precipitation February percent of mean precipitation

The loop below shows monthly soil moisture anomalies across the nation since September 2012. In September 2012 far southwest Wisconsin's soil moisture was over 100 mm below normal. Conditions have steadily improved since then, and now far southwest Wisconsin's soil moisture is only about 50 mm below normal. Click the loop for a larger version:

 

 


 

Winter Snowfall

M
eteorological winter (December, January and February) for 2012-13 at Madison also ranks in the top ten snowiest meteorological winters.

Madison received 55.0 inches during meteorological winter 2012-13, which was 18.0 inches above the normal amount of 37.0 inches. This places 2012-13 as the 9th snowiest meteorological winter on record at Madison.

Madison:

Rank Snowfall Years
1 86.3" 2007-08
2 65.8" 1897-98
3 64.7" 2010-11
4 62.3" 2008-09
5 61.0" 1993-94
6 58.2" 1978-79
7 57.7" 1909-10
8 55.5" 1987-88
9 55.0" 2012-13
10 51.2"

1985-86

In Milwaukee, the meteorological winter season total snowfall of 37.2 inches was only 2.1 inches above the normal snowfall of 35.1 inches.    


Winter Temperatures

While the month of February was colder than normal by 1.8 degrees in Milwaukee, and 2.0 degrees in Madison, overall, temperatures have been above normal this winter. Milwaukee's average temperature was 27.4 degrees, and Madison's average temperature was 24.1 degrees. It was the 23rd and 26th warmest winter at Milwaukee and Madison, respectively.

 


 

February Snowfall

Southern Wisconsin received a generous amount of snowfall during the month of February 2013. In fact, Milwaukee and Madison both had February snowfall amounts that rank in the top ten snowiest February months. 

Milwaukee had 25.8 inches, which is 16.0 inches above the normal amount of 9.8 inches. This places 2013 as the 10th snowiest February on record at Milwaukee.

Milwaukee:

 

Rank Snowfall Year
1 42.0" 1974
2 37.6" 1994
3 35.4" 1898
4 33.8" 1960
5 30.8" 1881
6 29.6" 2011
7 28.5" 2008
8 27.4" 1924
9 27.1" 1967
10 25.8" 2013

Madison had 22.7 inches, which is 12.1 inches above the normal amount of 10.6 inches. This places 2013 as the 4th snowiest February on record at Madison.

Madison:

Rank Snowfall Year
1 36.0" 1994
2 29.6" 2008
3 23.8" 2011
4 22.7" 2013
5 22.0" 2007
6 21.9" 1898
7 20.9" 1975
8 20.0" 1887
9 17.9" 1936
10 16.1" 1962

 


 

Outlook for Spring:

There is an increased chance that the above normal temperatures and precipitation will continue into the Spring (March-May) as well, according to the Climate Prediction Center. The maps below show about a 40% chance of above normal temperatures and precipitation. Click each map for a larger version:

SpringTemperature Outlook Spring Precipitation Outlook


Brooks/Wood/ET
NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI


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