How unusual was last week’s cold snap?

Through Friday, Madison experienced 10 straight days with temperatures at or below 32 degrees, or freezing.

And though that streak was interrupted (delightfully) over the weekend, it appears we will experience a return to sub-freezing temperatures by Tuesday.

If anyone needed more evidence of the unusual depth and duration of this early season cold snap, consider this: The most recent time Madison endured a longer streak of consecutive freezing-or-below days in November was in 1880 — 134 years ago.

In fact, this November’s 10-day period of freezing-or-below temperatures in Madison ties it with seven other Novembers, all of which are second only to November 1880, during which there were 15 such days.

Although we are not likely to reach that record, we are very likely to end up alone in second place in this category by the time this November is over.

In addition to the length of this cold period, we have also experienced nine straight days of snowfall through Nov. 19.

Although we have only experienced a trace of snow on five of those nine days (a trace is less than 0.1 inch), such a consecutive snowfall streak in November is quite unusual – much more characteristic of mid-winter.

Over the previous five Novembers, no streak of longer than two consecutive snowfall days has occurred. In those same five winters, streaks of 10 days occurred only three times; in December 2009 (10 days), February 2010 (10 days), and January/February 2013 (11 days). By nearly any measure, this has been a remarkable early season cold snap.

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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