January closes with biggest monthly snowfall since 1999

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One month ends and another one begins. January has brought out winter's wildest with extremely cold temperatures and heavy snow.

It is hard to believe but we are ending January with 24.8 inches of snowfall in Eau Claire. That is two times the average amount we usually see this month.

"It's totally different," said Kwan Csumsaina, a UWEC student from Thailand.

The snow may look old by now but imagine for a moment seeing and touching it for the first time. When you live in Thailand and you're studying abroad in Wisconsin, an extreme winter is on the syllabus.

"It's very beautiful but when it's melting it's super cold," Kwan said.

The full Wisconsin winter: if there was a month to experience it, this was it.

"Really that's been the whole story this winter," said SkyWarn 13 Chief Meteorologist Darren Maier.

He says all the ingredients have been right to make this one of the harshest January winters.

"I think what has been most surprising is not only the well below average temperatures but above average snowfall in January and December.

In January alone, Maier said we picked up about 24.8 inches of snow in Eau Claire. The last time we passed that number was 15 years ago in 1999 when 32.1 inches of snow fell. On average, the month of January between then and now usually saw only about 8.7 inches.

"A lot of these clipper systems come in every few days, dump a couple inches of snow and we've had a few bigger ones in January," Maier said. "And when it adds up that is what brought us two feet of snow in January."

So what is in store for next month? Maier says while it is tough to predict snowfall, he has some thoughts on the temps.

"When patterns take shape and evolutions occur earlier in the season, they tend to carry through the duration of the season, possibly even longer," he added.

"I have learned I should cover my hands before building a snowman," Kwan said.

Kwan is still getting used to winter and snow. And while it may no longer be a pretty sight, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"Beautiful, very beautiful," Kwan added.