What were the weather highlights of 2023?

As we begin a new year, let’s look back on the weather of 2023. The most recent, and odd, weather event of the year was the warm temperature on Christmas Day, with a high of 54 degrees in Madison. That was only the seventh time since 1869 that the maximum temperature exceeded 50 degrees on Christmas.

Daily temperature graph for 2023 (Image credit: Wisconsin State Climatology Office)

The state received less than one-third of its usual precipitation in November. The statewide average temperature for the meteorological autumn (September, October and November) was 2.5 degrees above normal, which made it the eighth-warmest autumn on record. In October, the 4.14 inches of statewide average precipitation was 1.13 inches above the 1991-2020 normal. This helped to alleviate our drought conditions.

We experienced heavy rain on Feb. 27. Both Milwaukee and Madison recorded more precipitation on that day (2.06 inches and 1.56 inches, respectively) than normally falls there during the entire month of February. That heavy rain contributed to the winter of 2022-23 being Wisconsin’s wettest meteorological winter (December through February) on record (since 1895). The winter also was warm overall, highlighted by a lack of temperatures at or below 0 degrees.

March was snowy. Total snowfall for the month exceeded normal conditions throughout Wisconsin. Madison recorded its snowiest day of the month on March 25, with 12.1 inches of snow, making it the snowiest March in Madison since 1959.

April was an interesting month. Temperatures for the state averaged 8 degrees warmer than normal from April 1 to April 15 and then were 8 degrees colder than normal from April 16 to April 30. Eau Claire, Wausau, Green Bay, La Crosse and Madison all had four straight days of 80 degrees or warmer in early April.

Our meteorological summer in 2023 was the fifth-driest summer on record (since 1895). An intense heat wave hit in August, peaking from Aug. 22 to Aug. 24. Temperatures reached more than 100 degrees in many areas across the state.

Steve Ackerman and Jonathan Martin, professors in the UW-Madison department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, are guests on WHA radio (970 AM) at 11:45 a.m. the last Monday of each month. Send them your questions at stevea@ssec.wisc.edu or jemarti1@wisc.edu.

Category: Climate, History, Meteorology

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