Extreme Spring Weather…Then & Now

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

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Spring can lead to some of the most extreme weather that we see all year in Wisconsin.  The battle of the airmasses can produce severe weather including tornadoes, or it can lead to wintry weather.

Twenty-one years ago on May 10, 1990 spring met winter head on.  Heavy, wet snow blanketed much southeast Wisconsin.  Here is a look at snow totals that day.

  • Waukesha  6″-10″
  • Milwaukee  3.2″
  • Madison  3.0″

Here is a slideshow of the late season snow.  Just click below to see the pictures.

May 10, 1990 Snowstorm Pictures

This write-up comes from the NWS site regarding May 10, 1990:

On May 10th, 1990  6 to 8 inches of snow fell in a band that extended from southern Oconto county, to northern Racine and Walworth counties. Trees, with their spring leaves sprouting, caught more of the snow than if they had been bare. Again, the weight of the wet snow, accompanied by 35 mph winds, snapped tree limbs and power lines. 30,000 customers were without power for two days, with damage totaling $4 million dollars.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is what we experienced on Tuesday.  A strong warm front created a huge temperature contrast across southern Wisconsin.  At 3pm it was 90 degrees in Janesville, while it was 65 degrees with a southeast wind in Milwaukee!

Below is the surface map at 3pm May 10.  The red numbers represent air temperatures, and the green numbers dew points.  Locations with a south to southeast wind had temperatures of 85 to 90, while east to southeast winds kept readings cooler north of the warm front. 

Surface Map Tuesday May 10, 2011

While 80s will likely not reach Milwaukee, but 70s are possible both Wednesday and Thursday.  Keep in mind it will be warmer for inland locations. 

Along with the warmth, increased moisture will produce a chance of thunderstorms for both Wednesday and Thursday.  One chance on Wednesday would come very early, but most likely the best chance later in the day, around peak heating. 

Below is the surface forecast map from the 18Z NAM.  The map below is valid at 7pm Wednesday.  Green represents rain.  While most the rain is over southwest Wisconsin.  I think some showers and t-storms will be possible in our area too. 

NAM 7pm Wednesday May 11

As we discussed in the blog this past Sunday, my warning for the week was keep an umbrella near through at least Thursday.  And have a plan ‘B’ ready if you have outdoor plans.  The chance of showers and t-storms will continue in the forecast. 

For live radar updates and the latest timing for storms, check out WISN 12 News!  To track storms at home or work, just click the interactive radar link below.

Interactive Radar

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


8 Responses

  1. Jeremy~

    What are you thinking for rain totals when the next few rounds of rain are done? Thanks.

    • Lori,

      The signature storm has produced ‘wet’ results pretty much everytime in the cycle. I think from yesterday through Friday(9-13) many areas could total around 1″ of rain. Again, thunderstorms can turn the best forecast upside down in a hurry. So I’m sure there will be higher and lower totals.

      Make sure to catch our newscasts if you can. We’ll show the high resolution computer model that generally does a good job pinning down rain chances.


      • Thanks Jeremy.

  2. 75 for a high in New Berlin. Perfectly caught in between the cool lakeshore readings and the unpleasant (by my standards) heat to the south and west.

    The signature storm doesn’t seem too impressive this time around now that there is no snow element to it. Seems like the only records that are going to get set this time around are temperature records.

    • Daniel G, it’s not here yet. Wed/Thu/Fri. The stuff yesterday and today was the pre signature storm precip. This is all lies and bs though, as it is only my opinion. 🙂

  3. Jeremy- We have high school soccer practice from 3:30 to 5:30 tomorrow in Waukesha. What are the chances that we will have storms like the downpours we saw Monday afternoon?

    • Mike…sorry for the delayed respose. Your game should start dry, may end wet.


  4. Great call Mark- you nailed it right on the button. They played until about 4:20 when the downpours and hail came!

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