Taking another look at recent cold

     Our recent cold snap was one of the coldest in the past 18 years in southern Wisconsin. 

But how unusual was it?  Looking historically, not that unusual.  No records were broken at Milwaukee or Madison.  The following information will help put this in context.

We have had 5 consecutive days at both Madison and Milwaukee with low temperatures of zero or below.  That streak is forecast to end tonight.  This is the longest streak at Madison since a 6 day period ending January 17th of 2009.   For Milwaukee, it is the longest streak since a 6 day period ending February 8th, 2007.  So this streak is the longest in the past 5-7 years.   

The longest streaks of consecutive days of zero or below for low temperatures:

  •  Milwaukee:   17 days ending February 12th, 1895
  •  Madison:      21 days ending February 12th, 1895

Recently, since 1990, here are the longest streaks

Milwaukee

  •  9 days ending February 6th, 1996
  •  9 days ending January 21st, 1994
  •  6 days ending February 8th, 2007

Madison

  • 10 days ending February 6th, 1996
  •   9 days ending December 25th, 2000
  •   9 days ending January 21st, 1994
  •   8 days ending January 25th, 2008


So far this 2013-2014 winter season, the following are the total number of days with low temperatures of zero or below:

Milwaukee:  11 days

  • This is the most days at or below zero since 14 days in the 1995-1996 winter season.
  • The normal for a season based on 1981-2010 climatology is 8 days per season
  • The average since records began in 1871 is 12 days per season
  • The record for most days is 41 in 1884-1885;  the record for least days is zero in 2009-2010 (the lowest temperature was +1F) 

Madison:  17 days 

  • This is the most days at or below zero since 24 days in the 2008-2009 winter season
  • The normal for a season based on 1981-2010 climatology is 17 days per season
  • The average since records began in 1869 is 20 days per season
  • The record for most days is 51 in 1884-1885;  the record for least days is 2 in 1997-1998


Jeff Craven,  Science and Operations Officer

National Weather Service Milwaukee/Sullivan WI



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