Is winter finally here?

January 21 Terra MODIS view of wintry Wisconsin (Photo credit: CIMSS)

Though we have enjoyed a remarkably warm December and first half of January in Madison this year, we are now entering deep winter.

The period from Dec. 1 through Jan. 17 has averaged 7.4 degrees above normal this year and has contributed to our breaking  or approaching several obscure, but nonetheless, interesting records of prolonged warmth — provided courtesy of Jordan Gerth at the Space Science and Engineering Center at UW-Madison.

We have already broken the previous record for latest date with a low temperature of 10 degrees or colder, set on Jan. 11, 1914.  This year, we made it to Saturday, when the overnight low was zero.

A related measure, the record for the number of consecutive days with a low temperature of 10 degrees or warmer, had already been broken this year.  The prior record was 324 consecutive such days (Feb. 10, 1997, to Dec. 30, 1997).  The streak that began Feb. 14, 2018, ended Saturday, meaning we set a new record of 339 days.

As of Monday, we will likely edge up to the fifth spot in the latest first day (after July 1) for a low temperature below zero.  The all-time latest occurred on March 3, 2002 — nearly a full month later than its nearest competitor.

Similarly, the number of consecutive days with a low temperature warmer than zero ended Sunday at 341 days.  The all-time record in this category is 378, set between Feb. 18, 2001, and March 2, 2002.

So, even as you are cursing the cold in the last week of January, remember it has been a remarkably long run of unseasonably warm weather.

Category: Meteorology, Seasons, Severe Weather

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