Bitter Cold…For One More Day

***Watch WISN 12 News for the latest weather information!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  If you missed the past two entries that Mark did about ‘ice balls’ and ‘ice volcanoes’ check them out right after this entry.  Very interesting Great Lakes phenomena!

Cold weather has been the story the past 2 days, and it will continue to dominate the weather headlines for another 36 hours or so.  Below is a surface map at 1pm Wednesday.  Notice that temperatures are in the single digits to teens in many locations.  The arctic air covers most of the Plains and Midwest!

Surface Temperatures Wednesday 1pm

With daytime highs struggling to reach 10 degrees in many areas, temps don’t have far to fall to produce a very cold night.  This means that stepping out the door early Thursday temperatures of -5 to -10 will greet many.  I think -5 or so is likely even here in the city!

The frigid start on Thursday will slowly warm to about 5 to 10 degrees during the afternoon. 

NAM Forecast Temperatures Wednesday

If we stay in the single digits for daytime highs it would be the second time this season.

The good news about cold snaps heading into the middle part of February, they usually don’t last too long.  The combination of a higher sun angle and longer days are a couple of signs that we are heading toward Spring.

By next week temperatures will easily warm into the 30s, if not the 40s across southeastern Wisconsin.  Below is a forecast temperature map from the 12Z GFS for next Wednesday, February 17.  Notice the 60s over parts of Missouri!   

GFS Temperature Forecast 2/16

A couple of limiting factors will be in place that may keep our temperatures somewhat in check.  The first is a deep snowpack, this will automatically keep temperatures cooler than what they potentially could be.  Also, when a deep snowpack begins to melt, low clouds and fog can form and keep temperatures from warming.

Even if low clouds and fog form, I think temperatures should warm into the 30s, and if sunshine breaks through 40s are possible!  If there was no snow, like in late December, we would be enjoying 50s!

Watch WISN 12 News for the latest as the cold ends and we transition into a milder part of the pattern.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


9 Responses

  1. Any idea when we could see any more snow or are we looking at a rain event??

    • Dan,

      Any snow chances in the near term would be light. A couple of clippers may brush our area.

      The period of Feb 16-24 could be rain or snow. But I do think we see some rain in this timeframe.


  2. Where do you think this part of the pattern corresponds to in the previous cycle? The timing has me a bit confused because it seems a little late to line up with the relatively mild week we had leading into Christmas (9-14 days after the signature storm in December), but too early to be the surge we had leading into New Years (18-20 days after). These upcoming days line up 11-15 days after this recent signature storm hit.

    • Think upper level pattern..not surface reflections. There are delays due to seasonal and other factors that can delay or speed up surface response even if the upper air pattern is similar.

    • Daniel,

      The surface features are what I got caught up in the first year I was following the LRC. The timing has been difficult for me this year. The LRC can not be narrowed down to an exact cycle length. Although, I believe it is currently between 51 and 53 days. This is where detractors of the LRC start to come out of the woodwork. However, hard to argue when you see the December storm and the blizzard of last week. I can’t tell you how fun it is to have confidence a big storm is coming that far in advance.

      • Mark – good points. The LRC will never have an exact duration. This is largely because of seasonal changes and other atmospheric conditions that affect the Westerlies. That said, as you are finding, it has a huge advantage in knowing the overall synoptic setups days/weeks/months in advance. As useful at times is knowing the trends within the LRC to validate other models. This last blizzard was a great example where models kept trying to take the storm south – the LRC and knowing its components suggested otherwise. The rest of this month is a perfect example as well. Specifically the dramatic shift upcoming to a western troughing regime.

  3. Hey, Mark and Jermy —

    At what intensity would you put upcoming rainfall — light, moderate or heavy? And how would that translate into flooding potential and icing overnight? I know both are a concern where we are. We have a huge snowpack and if we get another huge melting event as we had at New Year’s, and rain on top of that, we’ll be in for one big mess. I’ll have to be tryign to dig out our sump pump discharge hose! And when temps go back below freezing, we’ll have an even bigger mess. I’ve never found rain in winter to be a friend.

    Any thoughts from anyone?

    Don in Reeseville

  4. Just went back and looked at the January forecast and the winter forecast…not too shabby at all…

    • Scott,

      It would have been a slam dunk, but the ‘signature’ storm for the most part arrived Feb 1-2. I’ll call the January forecast a lay up:)

      Forecast was below average temps and above average snow with 20″ or more likely. Final result was temps just a hair below average and snowfall at 19″ in Milwaukee, above average.

      The February forecast because of my misread of the ‘signature’ storm will be off for the snowfall, but precipitation and temps may work out. Otherwise identifying the warm-up that is upcoming is right on schedule!


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