One year ago today we started the day off at -7 in Eau Claire and warmed up to 11. Fast forward to today where we start the day off with a low of 16 (chilly, but still well above average) to topping off at a very mild 40 degrees. Our average high today was 23. What a crazy winter we've been having!
Another surge of mild air from the Pacific will boost temperatures the next couple of days. Some leftover clouds early on Monday, but sunshine will return by the afternoon, which will be good enough for mid to upper 40s across Western Wisconsin. Cooler highs in the north where a snow pack still lingers. I don't think we'll see any records broken in Eau Claire or La Crosse. Tuesday will be the big day with potentially many records being broken across the Midwest including in Eau Claire and La Crosse. The record high is 45 degrees back in 1980 for Eau Claire, and 50 degrees from back in 1928 for La Crosse.
So how is it getting this darn warm? Well a good chunk of it has to do with the pattern that we've been in with the jetstream stuck up in Canada, but another big factor is the fact we have no snow on the ground for most of us. The National Weather Service in La Crosse did a study on this by taking the high and low temperature for each day in January since 1893. After all that data was collected it was determined if there was snow on the ground or not for each day. After accumulating all the data, they found that for high temperatures in January, highs are 10.4 degrees warmer when there is no snow on the ground in La Crosse than if there was snow on the ground. It's 12 degrees warmer for low temperatures. That's quite a difference with that much data.
Here are a couple diagrams to show why high and low temperatures are so much colder if there's snow on the ground.
No matter whether it is day or night the snow will keep things colder even on a sunny day like today. If we had snow on the ground, temperatures wouldn't have rebounded like they did. Even though it was pretty chilly this morning, we were still able to make it up to 40. It was a warm up of 24 degrees. Last year on this date when we had a bunch of snow on the ground our warm up from low to high was 18 degrees. We do still have some snow up in our northern counties where temperatures have been trailing the rest of Western Wisconsin that has no snow.
Our lack of snow has also kept us from going below zero much at all this winter thus far. We were below zero once last Monday then only one other time in December. Last winter we already 9 days below zero up until this point of season. By the end of the winter of 2010/2011 there were 26 days below zero in Eau Claire. Yeah...it was a rough winter last year. If we keep this up, this winter could see some of the fewest below zero days in a winter. Here is a list of the fewest below zero winter seasons in Eau Claire.
Enjoy the warm start to the week and the 40s. It'll be perfect weather to get outside and enjoy such unseasonable temperatures for this time of the year. BIG changes are on the way for the second half of the week. On Wednesday, a strong cold front will bring a good chance for some light snow. At this point only around and inch to maybe two. After the front passes, a batch of Arctic air will invade the Midwest. Highs on Thursday will be only in the 10s with wind chills below zero. Welcome back winter...
To see more on the snow vs. no snow study done by the La Crosse National Weather Service. Click the link below.