Blustery and Cold Start to 2012

Happy New Year!! It was quite an eventful year in 201. Despite relatively quiet weather the past couple of weeks, we are beginning 2012 with a bit of a bang in the weather department.

Last night a strong low pressure system dumped between 3-6" of snow north of Eau Claire. Places like Rice Lake picked up 6". Lesser amounts as you travel south, generally around an inch including in Eau Claire where 1.1" was picked up. After the snow, the winds ramped up gusting between 30 to even 50 mph during New Year's Day. Here are some of the higher wind gusts from around the region.

La Crosse 49 mph
Winona 48 mph
Frederic 48 mph
New Richmond 41 mph
Ladysmith 38 mph
Osceola 36 mph
Black River Falls 36 mph
Eau Claire 36 mph
Rice Lake 35 mph
Medford 35 mph
Menomonie 31 mph
Sparta 30 mph

The northwest winds are perfect for producing lake effect snow, and that's what we are seeing for portions of the Great Lakes. The whole coast of Lake Michigan in Michigan is under winter storm warnings. Communities are expecting 6-10 inches of snow with drifts well over a foot from winds gusting to as high as 60 mph right on the lakeshore. Some areas will see white out conditions on the roadways where blizzard warnings have been issued. Quite a way to start 2012 for those folks. There's some rain in the New England area, but generally the weather is pretty quiet across the rest of the nation.

Meanwhile, back closer to home. Our temperatures will tumble overnight bottoming out in the upper single digits to lower 10s. With wind speeds expected to be between 15-25 mph out of the northwest, we'll see wind chills well below zero Sunday night. Here's a wind chill chart where you can see what wind chill will be produced from a given temperature and wind speed. It also shows you how long it will take for frostbite to set in.

Skies will clear during the day on Monday and the winds will lighten up as well. This will set the stage for a very cold night with lows getting below zero across much of Western Wisconsin. It will likely be the first time Eau Claire has been below zero since December 10th. We've been pretty fortunate so far this winter escaping the bitter cold temperatures we experienced last year. Monday will end up being the first day below normal in about two and a half weeks.

Like many times before in this winter season, we will warm right back up. We'll likely see 40s once again late this week. Alright, so we're off and running in 2012. It'll be interesting to see what happens this year weather-wise. I'm sure many people across the country are hoping 2012 is far less eventful than 2011.

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