First Snowflakes? Cold Surge Arrives

***Watch WISN 12 News at 10pm for the latest weather information!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 Blog!  If you missed yesterday’s blog entry on the cycling weather pattern, check it out right after today’s entry.

The focus right now is on the big push of cold air that will spread across the area over the next 36 hours.  Snow showers were occurring in northern Wisconsin Friday morning.  As the cold air drifts south, any leftover moisture could fall as either sprinkles/brief rain shower, or the first flurries of the season!  The chances are small to see snowflakes later Thursday since the really cold air arrives almost after the moisture moves out of southeast Wisconsin.

Still, there’s a chance!  Below is the GFS precipitation type forecast.  This shows blue over southeast Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Thursday.  This one model indicates that snow flurries are possible!  If there are a few flurries, no snow accumulation is expected. 


If you are wondering when the first snowflakes typically occur in Milwaukee, here are the average first measurable snow and first one inch dates.

  • First Measurable  November 11
  • First One Inch  November  30

Now let’s check out when the first trace or more of snow has occurred over the past 5 years in Milwaukee.  There is a big range, so basically anytime from mid-October thru November the first snowflakes of the season could fall!

  • 2009  November  25
  • 2008  October  26
  • 2007  November  15
  • 2006  October  11
  • 2005  November  15


Even if we miss the snow, we will not escape the cold temperatures.  Below is a temperature forecast map for 1 p.m. Friday, from our in-house high resolution computer model.  Highs on Friday will be in the low 40s…the coldest high temps since last April 8! 

If you like milder weather, say highs in the 50s to around 60, hang in there.  Another push of mild air will surge our way on Sunday and Monday.  Highs should be around 60 both days!  Below is a forecast surface map from the HPC.  The warm front to our west will move by Sunday afternoon.  Winds will be gusty out of the southwest, and adding in some sunshine it looks like a mild end to the upcoming weekend! 

If you do see snowflakes where you live late Thursday, please post your weather report to the comments section of the blog!  You can also get our weather updates and interact with the weather team on our Facebook page at WeatherWatch 12

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


8 Responses

  1. Two questions…

    Do you know what the latest date for measurable snowfall has been because I remember one year back in the 90s where some of the golf courses were still open a couple days before Christmas.

    Also, what does the red on the precipitation type map represent? I’m not familiar with the “PL” abbreviation.

    • Daniel,

      Not sure about the latest measurable snow, but if anyone knows they can post the answer. The ‘PL’ I believe represents sleet/pellets. Often times I just get a general idea from the models on the precip. type. Another computer model that shows the precip. type had us staying all rain.


  2. The latest snowfall? I recall a snowstorm that closed schools etc. on May 11th, but don’t remember the exact year. It was either 1990 or 1991.

    • Cliff,

      Thanks for the post. Anyone know the latest arrival of the first Fall snowflakes?


  3. This evening at my location, the northside of Oshkosh, the first frozen precipitation of the season fell. I was out around 6:45pm chopping wood and some graupel came crashing down. It lasted for 5-10 minutes. I am uncertain if in the falling precipitation I saw actual flakes, however.

    Does graupel constitute as “First Flakes”? Is it a matter of opinion or based on fact?

    As far as the latest measurable snowfall. I’ve been observing precipitation for the NWS and CoCoRaHS since Nov 1, 2006 and the latest I’ve observed a measurable snowfall is Dec 3rd. For what it’s worth.

    Firsts & Lasts

    • Josh,

      I wouldn’t count sleet or graupel as the first snowflakes. We’ll see some soon enough:) Hopefully they hold off a little longer, but in Milwaukee the average date for the first measurable snow is November 11. We’re quickly approaching that date.


  4. Jeremy, in communicating with Brian Hahn from the NWS MKE today (COOP Observer Coordinator), we agreed that graupel is a form of snow, snow pellets.

    2-1 (Brain, myself and you).

    So there you have it, it is a matter of opinion. 🙂

    • Josh,

      I’m just glad the airport didn’t report a trace of snow, because those certainly were now snowflakes yesterday:)


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