Archive for March, 2011

No Joking, Snow Possible
March 31, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Another month is in the books and it looks like April will pick up where March ended.

More below average temperatures are in the forecast for the next 3-5 days, and also a chance of rain and snow.  The first chance of snow arrives on Friday – April Fool’s Day.

The 12Z GFS forecast below is valid at 1pm Friday.  This shows precipitation over southeast Wisconsin.  This would likely be a mix of rain and snow.  The 850mb(1500 meters above the ground) temperatures indicated by the solid blue lines on the map indicate temperatures below freezing supporting snow aloft.  But at the surface, temperatures will be above freezing.

So I think a mix and snow showers are possible on Friday.

GFS 12Z Friday Rain & Snow Possible

At least we are not the Northeast or parts of New England where heavy snow is expected over the next 24 hours.  Just look at the heavy precipitation in that region on the map above, with most of it being snow.

The RPM shows snow showers at 1pm across our area early Friday afternoon.  It appears to be a narrow band of snow.

Friday Snow Showers RPM

Since the snow will be occurring during the day and surface temperatures will be above freezing, most of the snow should melt on contact.  Can’t rule out some minor snow accumulation on a grassy surface, but this should be more of a nuisance than anything.

After a quiet day on Saturday, the focus will be on a storm system for Sunday and Monday.  Certainly not good news because the second half of the weekend could be wet and white.  Right now there is a chance of rain, and maybe even some rain/snow as the precipitation begins.

By Monday rain showers are possible, and temperatures will be chilly for tailgaters before the Brewers home opener.  Forecast temperatures on Monday will likely be in the 30s to low 40s across the area.  Below is the 12Z GFS temperature forecast at 7am Monday.  This indicates mid-30s in Milwaukee.

GFS Forecast Temperatures Monday

Hopefully the models change as Monday nears, but using the models and LRC, I would expect a damp, dreary and cool day.

Before I wrap up this blog I want to share something I heard on a Milwaukee radio station last evening.  After the forecast was read, the radio personality said “Meteorologist ___  from ___ said the 10 day outlook keeps temperatures below average”. 

I’m still looking at the April 7-11 time window for above average temperatures for at least a day or two.  This part of the pattern has occurred 3 times, and I expect it back again.  So there is some hope for warmer temperatures later next week.

Finally, I was in Madison on Wednesday working on a story that will air in a couple of weeks.  I had the opportunity to stop by my old stomping grounds, the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences building at UW-Madison.  While on the roof of the building I took this picture of the campus and Lake Mendota.  There was still ice on the lake!

Madison picture March 30, 2011

Make sure to drop your thoughts and questions in the comments section of the blog.  It’s been too quiet in there lately! 

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


April Forecast – Based On Lezak’s Recurring Cycle
March 29, 2011

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Update: Due to Jeremy’s extensive and impressive post, I thought we would let this run another day. Our weather is pretty quiet right now. A nice Thursday on the way.  A little rain/snow on Friday, but little if any accumulation. The home opener for the Brewers is still looking pretty crummy. Showers, wind, and cold with temps in the low 40s. Dress warmly. Thankfully, we have a roof.


Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog.  Hard to believe another month has passed and we are talking about the first full month of spring!  After a winter that produced above average snowfall, and slightly below average temperatures, it’s time to look ahead using the LRC, or Lezak’s Recurring Cycle.  Remember, this is the only place in southeast Wisconsin that you will find long range forecasts based on the LRC!

The ‘LRC’ which stands for Lezak’s Recurring Cycle is a weather pattern theory based on the following:

  • A unique weather pattern sets up every year between October 1st and November 10th
  • The weather pattern cycles, repeats, and continues through winter, spring and into summer. Identifying the cycle length helps tremendously when making long range weather predictions.
  • Long term long-wave troughs and ridges become established and also repeat at regular times within the cycle. These dominant repeating features are a clue to where storm systems will reach peak strength, and where they will be their weakest.
  • The LRC is a winter-long pattern! There is a pattern! It isn’t just one long-wave trough, storm system, or ridge. It is a sequence of troughs and ridges that are cycling across the Northern Hemisphere.


To put this in very simple terms, the weather pattern that occurs in October and November repeats thru the Winter, Spring, and into the Summer.

The easiest way to view the LRC is to look at maps in the middle of the atmosphere, the 500mb level. The 500mb level is really a good spot to analyze the trough(lows) and ridge(highs) positions to help determine the long term longwave ridges and troughs. At the 500mb level you also don’t have to factor in friction or surface moisture. The theory can be translated down to the surface(where we live), which we do in this long range forecast.

The cycle length will vary each year. I’ve seen cycles of 42-46 days, 60-62 days, etc.  This year’s cycle duration is about 46-52 days.  Overall most of the weather events have repeated about 47-51 days apart.  After analyzing the pattern and surface results from October through March, I was able to get a very good idea of what should occur this April.


For this long range April forecast I will highlight when the most active weather and biggest temperature swings should occur during April. 

Let’s start by looking at what a typical April looks like weatherwise in Milwaukee.

  • Average Precipitation  3.78″
  • Average Snowfall  2.6″
  • Average High/Low  (1st  48/32  &  30th  60/41)

 Since the first several days of April are covered on the 7 day forecast I will only briefly touch on them. 

April 1-5

Rain or snow showers are possible to start the month across the state on the 1st.  A more impressive storm system should impact the region around April 3-5 with rain, wind, and colder temperatures on the backside of the storm.  Some parts of the state could see wet snow before the storm ends.  Certainly not great news for Brewers fans looking for a warm day for tailgating!

This storm lines up very well with the one that moved by the Midwest December 24-25.

April 6-12

If you want warm weather, this will be the timeframe for the first really good chance at seeing above average temperatures in April.  This is the part of the pattern that I touched on at the end of the March forecast that was posted here in the blog on February 27.  Here is what I stated then:

While many are hoping for an early Spring, I just don’t see it this year for Wisconsin.  However, I do think the first good chance at highs in the 70s may be around April 7-11. 

This part of the pattern has occurred like clockwork in the 3 previous times through the cycle.  Each time producing a stretch of 2-3 days with temperatures at least 10 degrees above average!  I think the warmest days should occur somewhere between April 7-11, and the first 70s of the season are possible.

Each time the big warm-up came crashing down as a storm system moved into the region.  I expect that storm system to occur again around April 11 give or take a day or two. 

Let’s look at the 500mb(middle of the atmosphere) charts for the 3 previous times thru the pattern.  Here is the 500mb map from November 13, 2010 when an upper level low was over the upper Midwest.  This produced some rain in the area. 

500mb November 13, 2010 Archive

Now fast forward 49 days to January 1, 2011.  A strong upper low was over the upper Midwest.  At the surface a strong cold front pushed through the region ushering in colder temperatures to start the new year.  This storm produced a major winter storm in parts of the Plains.

500mb January 1, 2011 Archive

Now jumping ahead 51 days to February 21, 2010.  Another upper low was over the Midwest putting an end to a warm stretch of weather from February 14 to 18.  The storm system helped to produce over a foot of snow in Green Bay on Feb. 20-21.  While in Milwaukee there was over 0.75″ of precipitation! 

500mb February 21, 2011 Archive

Not only should April 6-12 bring a period of warmer weather, but also the potential for a wet storm system, likely toward the end of the period.  While a majority of the storm should be rain in southeast Wisconsin.  I wouldn’t be surprised if enough cold air mixes in on the backside of the storm for a chance of snow.  Certainly possible this could produce a late season snowstorm somewhere in the upper Midwest.

Cooler weather is expected to settle in behind this storm, and should prevail until the next period of more active weather.

April 18-21

This time period could bring the first dose of severe weather to or very close to southeast Wisconsin.  Previous parts of the pattern have had a southwest flow aloft, and also warmer surface temperatures.  The above average surface temperatures in previous cycles have only lasted a coulpe of days. 

Back on November 22 a southwest flow existed at the 500mb over the Midwest, with a large trough digging into the West and northern Plains.

500mb November 22, 2010 Archive

On the surface, a storm system was pushing into the Midwest.  On November 22, or roughly 150 days or 3 cycles prior to April 21, severe weather occurred over southeast Wisconsin and parts of the Midwest.  Below is the SPC storm reports map from 11/22/10.

Storm Reports November 22, 2010

Now jump ahead 97 days to February 27 when the pattern returned with another favorable set-up for severe weather.  This time the severe weather was more extensive and covered areas from the Plains to the Ohio Valley. 

Storm Reports February 27, 2011

When this part of the pattern returns in April, another round of severe weather is possible.  Something we will watch closely, especially if warm temperatures and enough moisture are in place over southeast Wisconsin.

April 22-26

Behind this storm system I expect a cooler stretch of weather, with the potential for rain showers around April 23 give or take a day.  Hopefully the showers avoid April 23 or 24, the 23rd is the annual spring football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, and April 24 is Easter.  At least using the LRC we won’t be surprised if there is rain on either day.

April 27-30

The month should close with a good chance of a storm system in the Midwest.  The previous 3 times through the cycle the precipitation from this potential storm has totaled 0.40″(November 29-30), 0.39″(January 17), and 0.64″(March 9).  Once the storm passes the month should end with below average temperatures.


Before we look at the overall outlook for April, I want to show you roughly the time period that this month lines up with, and also the overall weather during those 30 days.  I found it very fascinating!

November 5 to December 4

  • Precipitation  2.04″ (below average)
  • Temperatures  +2.6

December 22 to January 20

  • Precipitation  0.88″ (below average)
  • Temperatures  +3.0

February 10 to March 11

  • Precipitation  2.50″ (above average)
  • Temperatures  +1.7

Really incredible that the three previous parts of the cycle all had above average temperatures!  The precipitation, or lack of may be attributed to this 30 day window missing all the ‘signature’ storm this season.

April 2011 Outlook

  • Precipitation – Near Average
  • Temperatures – Average to Slightly Above Average

I won’t issue a snowfall forecast because pinning down snow amounts in April is very difficult, but will say I think we do see snow this month.  Past the first week, I think the April 11-13 window some snow is possible if enough cold air works into the storm system in southeast Wisconsin.

Please feel free to ask questions about the LRC, the pattern, or anything weather related in the comments section of the blog.  This blog is completely interactive and we love talking about the weather with our viewers!

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson

Weather Pictures & April Forecast
March 29, 2011

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

Over the past several days I have had the pleasure to meet many viewers either at our Spring Discovery presentation at Discovery World, or at the station during various tours.

I want to share a couple of the pictures from the past few days.  First, a tour group from Holy Family Parish School in Whitefish Bay stopped by Tuesday afternoon to see our studio and talk about the weather.

The group consisted of 6-8th graders.  The picture below is in front of the weather center.

Holy Family Parish School

The kids were a great group and even had a chance to stand in front of the ‘green screen’!

This past Sunday, along with meeting hundreds of viewers, the Weather Watch 12 team was honored to have Rusty Kapela, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist, from the local National Weather Service office in attendance.  After the program Rusty, his wife Sandy, and I were able to get a picture of the 3 of us.  I will admit Rusty is the only Meteorologist in this area that I know of that is taller than me!

 Rusy, Sandy, and Jeremy at Discovery World

If you have pictures from the Spring Discovery weather show please send them to us at the station!

Look for a brand new blog this evening with the long range April forecast!  If you have thoughts or questions about the weather, just drop them in the comments section.

Have a great day and check back later for the April forecast!

Jeremy Nelson

Unusual Cold Stretch Ending Soon
March 28, 2011

Happy Monday, everyone. I want to reiterate what Jeremy said in the blog yesterday by thanking everyone who came out to the “Spring Discovery” program at Discovery World yesterday. It was a great crowd and the whole weather team enjoyed sharing video, experiments, trivia, and meeting many of you. We are looking forward to late fall for our next presentation and hope to see many of you there.

So, is anyone tired of the cold yet? Today makes seven days in a row with highs in the 30s. Having highs in the 30s is not unusual, but this many days in a row is an anomaly. Normally, in late March you get big swings in temperature. We can get highs in the 30s, but also highs in the 60s. We can thank an area of high pressure that has parked itself in central Canada.

This area of high pressure has moved very little in the last week. That is why we have had highs of 39, 33, 32, 34, 30, 33, and today’s high of 34. It was quite chilly this morning across our area and around the state. Take a look at the morning lows.

It was even colder up north.

The coldest spot was in Tomahawk where it dropped to -13. That is pretty brutal for this time of year.

Alas, the high pressure center can’t stay there forever. There is a warm-up on the way by the end of the week. Look at the expected highs on the GFS model for Sunday. We may actually hit 50 degrees.

Sunday could also bring a round of showers and thunderstorms.  We’ll keep a close eye on it here at Weather Watch 12. Before I wrap this up, I wanted to include a few pictures from Duluth after last week’s big storm. Duluth did not get much snow, but they did get some very strong winds that created some nice ice sculptures along the shoreline. Enjoy.

Have a great week. Think spring.


A Big Thank You & Cold About To Ease
March 27, 2011

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

I want to start off this blog with a huge thank you to everyone who attended the first Weather Watch 12 presentation at Discovery World.  The entire weather team was thrilled that we had an overflow crowd in attendance.  We met many of our loyal viewers and helped everyone to better understand the science behind our weather.  Our focus was also on severe weather, as we took a look back to the Eagle tornado on June 21, 2010, and the Milwaukee floods from July 22, 2010.

The picture below is from the start of the show when Mark Baden created different cloud types with shaving cream using kids from the crowd.  The girl that volunteered was all smiles! 

Discovery World Picture March 27

Many of our viewers took pictures on Sunday, if you have pictures please email them to and we may include one in the blog or WISN 12 News.  Please include your name with the pictures so we can give you credit.

The Pilot House at Discovery World was where the presentation was held today, the room has one of the best views of Lake Michigan anywhere in the city!  I took this picture before the show started looking southeast over the lake.  Notice the lake effect snow showers that were just offshore.

Lake Effect Snow Showers March 27

While our weather show focused on spring and severe weather, Mother Nature delivered wintry weather to the area this weekend.  First some snow showers on Saturday, then more cold Sunday.  The difference between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee was significant. 

The picture below from Lori Waldon shows the snowy scene on Saturday.

Milwaukee Lakefront March 26, 2011

While just over 24 hours later, there was nearly 100% sunshine!

Milwaukee Lakefront March 27, 2011

The lighter winds and sun did make a big difference on Sunday.  It didn’t feel quite as cold.

Moving forward this week, temperatures will moderate, but the warm-up will be gradual.  Don’t expect big changes through Wednesday as highs will be stuck in the 30s.  Even when temperatures move into the 40s they will still be below average for this time of year.

The cold dry air is good for one thing, keeping the storm track well to our south.  That will be the case early this week as low pressure will slide into the southern Plains and Tennessee Valley.  The dry air over the Great Lakes should keep mainly dry.  Can’t rule out some flurries with easterly winds late Tuesday, but the moisture as a whole should stay well south.

Below is the surface forecast map from the HPC for 7am Tuesday.

Surface Forecast Map March 29

The weather looks pretty quiet this week, we’ll keep an eye on a storm system for later next weekend, but there is plenty of time to fine tune that forecast.

Again I want to thank everyone who helped make our first ever Discovery World weather presentation a success.  We are planning to hold another weather event at Discovery World this fall.  I will keep everyone posted!

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson

Cold And Snow Linger, Plus Meet The Weather Team
March 26, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Before we discuss our current and future weather, I want to take a moment to talk about an opportunity for you to meet the Weather Watch 12 team and learn more about Wisconsin’s weather.  Here are the details:

  • ‘Spring Discovery’ at Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee
  • Time: 1:30-3:00pm, Sunday – March 27
  • Cost: $12 (special discounted admission to Discovery World, good for the entire day)
  • Presentation will cover severe weather in Wisconsin with demonstrations, video presentations, and giveaways!
  • Your chance to meet the entire Weather Watch 12 team!

If you are going to be there, please drop a note in the comments section of the blog.  I would love to take some pictures with bloggers and post them here on Sunday evening.  I hope to see you Sunday!

Now onto our spring weather, that really looks and feels more like winter.  It’s not often that we get to talk about lake effect snow in late March, but that will be the case for at least another day.

Cold air riding on northeast winds will continue to produce some scattered lake effect snow showers and flurries on Sunday.  The snow showers will be most numerous in the morning.  Our high resolution computer model, the RPM, shows the northeast winds, and some snow(in blue) below.  With winds turning more northeast, and eventually north-northeast late in the day I think the snow showers will stay a little closer to the lake on Sunday.

RPM Surface Forecast Sunday   

Any snow accumulations early Sunday should stay in the trace to 1″ range.  Main roads would likely just be wet from the bands of snow showers.

Outside of the snow, a bigger story may be the cold temperatures.  The average high in Milwaukee is now 46 degrees.  Saturday’s high was only 30, tying for the coldest so far in March!  More low 30s are in the forecast Sunday.  The late March cold snap extends all the way through the Midwest.  Look at the RPM forecast temperatures for Sunday, some mid-30s showing up in Missouri.  Keep in mind average highs there are now near 60!

RPM Forecast Temperatures Sunday

The cold weather will continue through at least Wednesday this week with highs in the 30s.  With the cold weather in place, a storm system will slide by our area late Tuesday.  The exact track of the storm is not set, but I think most of the energy will stay to our south.

If we do end up on the northern fringe of the storm, snow would be the likely precipitation type.  Below is the RPM forecast surface map for 4pm Tuesday.  The snow will have to overcome dry air in place over southern Wisconsin, but it looks like a close call.  Watch 12 News for updates on this feature.

RPM Tuesday Surface Forecast

Finally, before we end this discussion I want to share a comparison that I did today with the weather pattern around April 1.  Just a quick refresher for anyone new reading this blog entry.  I use a weather pattern theory called the LRC to forecast long range.  The theory states that the weather pattern sets up each fall, and then begins to cycle.  The cycle duration this year is 46-52 days, with most events repeating around 50 days.

With that said, I looked at the 18Z GFS forecast 500mb chart for April 1, and compared that to 149 days ago, or 3 cycles ago.  What I found even amazed me!

Below is the 500mb GFS FORECAST map for Friday, April 1.

500mb GFS Forecast April 1 

Now compare that to the archived 500mb chart from November 3, 2010.  The features are almost spot on, and the pattern continues to repeat!

500mb November 3, 2010 Archived Map

This is a way that I check to see if the long range models like the GFS are believable, by comparing them to past parts of the cycle.

If you ever have questions about the LRC, or are new to the blog just let me know in the comments section of the blog.

Have a great day and I hope to see you on Sunday at Discovery World!

Jeremy Nelson

Lake Effect Weekend
March 25, 2011

Sorry for the late post. It has been a hectic day in the weather center preparing for our Sunday show at Discovery World as well as leading four scout tours for the station today. I hope to see many of you on Sunday for the first ever entire weather watch 12 team presentation. Discovery World opens at 10am on Sunday and our presentation begins in the Pilot House at 1:30.  There is a $12 per person admission which will get you into the museum to see all of the very cool displays that they have there. We have never done a presentation with the whole weather team and we are quite excited about it. There will be severe weather videos, hands-on demonstrations, and so much more.

As for our weather, the cold continues and the lake-effect snow machine kicked in a bit today. Take a look at the picture from Jeremy in Waukesha county.

Not a lot of snow, but enough to cover the grass. I thought we would only get a few lake flurries today due to the mid levels of the atmosphere being so dry. However, there were a few heavier snow showers that developed. This will likely be the case for much of the weekend, but I am not expecting much, if any, accumulation.

Take a look at the radar from 8pm.

There is still a little light snow/flurries in the area, but not as heavy or widespread as earlier in the day.

 I have received quite a few questions today about how it is lake effect snow so far inland. At one time today, there was sunshine in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties and lake effect snow in Washington, Dodge, and Waukesha counties. This was pretty fascinating to watch. One thing to remember is there is an elevation change as you move into Washington and Waukesha counties. This elevation change was just enough to lift the air and condense the moisture just enough to create lake-effect snow. This is SE Wisconsin’s own version of orographic lifting. We don’t think of ourselves as mountainous, but we still have elevation change. At certain times that can make a big difference in the forecast. Sometimes the Kettle Moraine will get more snow than others, or the temperatures could be a degree colder. That can be just enough of a difference to bring snow and not rain.

As we move through the weekend, the NE winds continue. The cold air is in place so more lake-effect snow showers are likely. Here is the RPM at 7am Saturday morning.

Note the light snow band extending across our area. This will likely continue at least through Saturday night. Here is the snow accumulation for the weekend on the RPM.

Not much snow accumulation, but there could be a few snow squalls that move through making the roads a bit slippery at times. The good thing about this time of year is that light snow has a hard time accumulating on the roads during the day because enough solar radiation makes its way through the clouds quickly melting the snow even when the temperatures are below zero.


Winter Hangs On
March 24, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Another ‘signature’ storm has come and gone, and now we are left with cold late March temperatures.

The storm again shattered weather records in parts of Wisconsin.  Here is a quick summary from the NWS in Green Bay:

Green Bay officially recorded 17.8 inches.  That’s the highest snowstorm total in over 120 years of weather records; only two storms produced more snow (29.0″ in March 1888 and 23.1″ in January 1889).  In addition, this storm is the third one this season to produce 10 inches or more of snow in Green Bay, the first time that’s ever happened during a winter season.

In Milwaukee the storm produced around 0.75″ of rain, and 0.2″ of snow.  The storm also produced a wind gust of 37 mph in Milwaukee, the 12th highest since October 26.  Here is a look at the highest wind gusts in Milwaukee since October 26.  6 of the top 12 have occurred with one of the ‘signature’ storms.

1)  October 26  61 mph

2)  October 27  61 mph

3)  February 2  60 mph

4)  February 1  52 mph

5)  November 29  52 mph

6)  December 12  48 mph

7)  February 18  45 mph

8)  January 1  44 mph

9)  March 20  41 mph

10)  November 22  40 mph

11)  March 5  40 mph

12)  March 23  37 mph

The focus moving forward for the rest of the week and through the weekend is on the cold.  Temperatures will be 10-20 degrees below average across the area!

The cold, dry air will help to keep a storm system to our south over the weekend.  We’ll watch this closely, but it will be hard for the moisture to push north into the very cold late March air.

Below is the 12Z NAM forecast at 7 p.m. Saturday.  Notice the strong area of high pressure to our north.  The east-northeast winds will keep pumping in frigid temperatures from Canada.  Farther south, low pressure will push in the Tennessee Valley.

NAM Saturday March 26

How does this compare to the pattern back in December?  Roughly four days after the ‘signature’ storm in December, this storm system slid to our south.  Below is the surface map from December 16, 2011.  When doing comparisons with the LRC I like to use 500mb maps, but I thought I’d show the surface map this time.

December 16, 2010 Surface Map

The storm staying south this weekend means we should miss out on snow, but not the cold.  We’ll continue to keep an eye on the track in the next couple of days.

Temperatures should moderate a bit next week, but it appears that March will end with below average temperatures. 

With cold weather expected this weekend, stay inside and join the Weather Watch 12 team for ‘Spring Discovery’ at Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee.  The special weather presentation is Sunday, March 27 from 1:30-3:00pm.  The entire Weather Watch 12 team will be there.  Included will be video presentations, a tornado simulator, and a model thunderstorm.

If you plan on attending let us know in the comments section of the blog! 

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson

Some Snow & Lots of Cold
March 23, 2011

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Now that we are just days into Spring, winter has made an appearance.  Cold temperatures, snow showers, and frigid winds will be the rule over the next 12 to 24 hours in southeast Wisconsin.

Heavy, wet snow has already blanketed central and northern Wisconsin.  Even some spots in our viewing area have recorded measurable snow from this storm.  Here are a few snow totals:

  • Near Hayward  12.0″
  • Green Bay  11.0″
  • Fond du Lac & Sheboygan  1″-2″
  • Port Washington  1.0″
  • Hartland  Dusting

Green Bay’s snow total includes 7.8″ which fell on Tuesday-March 22, that set a new daily snowfall record! 

On Tuesday afternoon I was in Port Washington after a quick slushy inch of snow fell.  I took this picture just off I-43.

Slush Port Washington Tuesday

Remember, if you take a picture we would love to see it, and it may appear on WISN 12 News.  Just post it to the U-Local section of

Through Wednesday morning Milwaukee reported all rain from this storm system, but even that will change to snow showers later Wednesday.  The precipitation totals from this storm were much as we expected, over a half inch in all locations.

  • Fond du Lac  0.86″
  • Racine  0.80″
  • Pleasant Prairie  0.77″
  • Sheboygan  0.75″
  • Milwaukee  0.75″
  • Jackson  0.72″
  • Kenosha  0.68″

If you have a total to share please post it to the comments section of the blog.  For the latest look at the interactive radar, and where the rain and snow is currently located, click here.

Moving forward the focus shifts to snow showers tonight, and a lot of cold in the coming days.  Temperatures may be cold enough to support some lake enhanced/effect snow showers.  Wind will be northeast, so this would favor our lakeshore counties.

Below is the RPM surface forecast at 9pm Wednesday.  The blue color represents snow.

RPM Snow Wednesday Night

Snow showers will be possible into early Thursday.  Snow accumulations from late Wednesday into early Thursday will likely range from a dusting to about 2″ across the area.  Greatest totals should stay closer to the lake in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties. 

Once the snow showers end, cold weather will be the focus into this coming weekend.  Keep in mind that the average high in Milwaukee by this Friday and Saturday is 46 degrees!  Highs will be no one near the average.  Below is the NAM temperature forecast for Friday at 7pm.  Notice that temperatures are forecast to be in the 20s!

NAM Temperatures Friday

The cold weather will last through the weekend and into next week.  We do need to watch a storm system that will be very close to our area on Saturday.  Right now I think the northern edge could graze our area.  We’ll focus more on that in Thursday’s blog.

Make sure to let us know what you think of the cold and snow in the comments section of the blog. 

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson

‘Signature’ Storm Arrives, Records To Fall Again
March 22, 2011

***Watch WISN 12 News for the latest on the rain and snow!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  A large and powerful early Spring storm system will impact the area over the next 2 days.  This ‘signature’ storm in the pattern will once again produce record setting weather over the Midwest.  From heavy rain, to heavy snow, and severe weather – we can expect many weather headlines to surface in the coming days.

Now that the rain has reached southern Wisconsin, the question is how much can we expect, and when will it change to snow?  For a current look at our interactive radar just click below.

Interactive Radar

Let’s start by looking at the surface map from 11am Tuesday morning.  At this time Milwaukee was just reporting cloudy skies with a cold east breeze and a temperature of 36 degrees.  Madison was reporting light rain indicated by the two ‘..’ next to the symbol labeled MSN.  Fond du Lac was reporting light snow at this time, indicated by the two ‘**’ symbols.

Surface Map Tuesday March 22 

The warm air was sitting well to the southwest of Wisconsin, with temperatures in the 70s over parts of Kansas and Missouri.  The mild readings will not make it into our region with this storm system.

So that means a cold rain, a wintry mix, or snow in southeast Wisconsin from this storm.  For Tuesday expect temperatures to remain in the 30s to near 40 degrees, warmest near the WI/IL border.  It will just be tough to see temperatures warm with winds blowing in refrigerated air from Lake Michigan.

The heaviest rains will likely occur late Tuesday afternoon through the early morning hours of Wednesday.  The 12Z GFS(Global Forecast System) model below shows 0.50″ to 0.75″ of rain possible between 7pm and 1am across southeast Wisconsin.  Thunderstorms are also likely during this time, and some could produce small hail.  If we were going to see any flooding issues surface during the rain, it may be during this time window.

Temperatures at the surface and aloft should keep the moisture as rain in Milwaukee during this time, but the ‘Zero’ line indicated by the blue line near Sheboygan would be likely anything from a mix to snow!  The blue line is the 850 mb(1500 meters above the ground) freezing line.  

Below is the 12Z GFS forecast map valid at 1 a.m.Wednesday.

GFS Surface Forecast March 22

The rain/snow line will drift south on Wednesday, and snow is likely in many areas.

Precipitation totals from Tuesday through early Thursday could be very impressive.  Some locations may push 2.00″ of moisture!  A majority of this would be rain in southeast Wisconsin.  Below is the RPM precipitation forecast.  Remember, this is just one forecast from one model that we look at.

Total Precipitation March 22-24

Now how much of this would be snow?  Below is the RPM snowfall forecast.  This puts a wide swath of 12″ of snow in northern Wisconsin.  This would be heavy, wet snow.

RPM Forecast Snowfall March 22-24

Below are the watches, warnings, and advisories that were in place as of Tuesday.  Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties were included in the Winter Weather Advisory.

Watches and Warnings March 22

Through midday Tuesday most of the models we use for forecasting had surface temperatures about 1-3 degrees too warm.  If the colder trend holds for the entire storm, then the accumulating snow bands would be shifted a bit farther south.  I do think West Bend, Waukesha, and Milwaukee will see some snow stick from this storm.  Just a slight shift of 20-50 miles in the rain/snow line will make a huge difference in the forecast. 

If you follow the blog you know we call this part of the weather pattern the ‘signature’ storm.  It occurred on October 26-27, December 11-12, and February 1-2.  It is now back and will likely set more weather records.  This storm was forecast back on February 3 and again in more detail on February 27 here in the blog.

From February 27 blog entry!

The ‘signature’ storm should return around March 22-24 and I am expecting a classic Spring storm with a severe weather outbreak in the warm sector, and a major winter storm in the cold sector.

Each time through the cycle over a half inch of liquid precipitation has been measured.  This is one of the wettest storms in this year’s pattern.

The big question is what will southeast Wisconsin see?  I would lean to a rain to snow, with gusty winds with this storm.  Behind the storm a push of cold air will settle in to the region.


The first discussion of exact dates for this part of the pattern, and its return, was discussed back on February 3 in the blog!

I would expect this storm to return again, likely somewhere around March 22-25.  Let the anticipation begin!

For the latest on the rain and snow watch WISN 12 News, and make sure to post your thoughts and questions to the comments section of the blog.   

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson