Wow! Just wow. I've been amazed by the weather several times since I started here at WEAU. Last winter was insane! We had 22" of snow fall in a 24 hour period...crazy! All in all, it was a brutal winter as far as snow and cold go, but this year I'm amazed by the total other end of the spectrum.
Yes, it's been a mild winter thus far. Between the brown Christmas and almost hitting 50 degrees in Eau Claire last month, there has been no shortage of examples to describe how crazy this winter has been. However, yesterday takes the cake in showing exactly how bizarre and unusual it's been.
There were 115 new record high temperatures set across the country including in Eau Claire and La Crosse. In Eau Claire, we topped out at 43 degrees beating the old record of 41degrees. Yesterday's record high temperature beat a three way tie of years with the old record in 1930, 1935, and 1939. La Crosse blew their old record out of the water topping out at 53 degrees. The old record was 47 degrees back in 1946. Our average high in Eau Claire was 23 degrees. We were exactly 20 degrees above average!
Records were staggering in the upper Midwest. Rapid City, South Dakota reached a spring-like 73 degrees beating their old record by 13 degrees. Rapid City's average high is 37 degrees. Aberdeen, SD hit 63 degrees. The warmest high temperature ever in the month of January. Many areas were above average by 30 to over 40 degrees above normal.
Two main factors that contributed to all these records yesterday and more records to come today and tomorrow. One big reason for the extremely unseasonable weather is the jet stream is far to the north in Canada and has allowed very mild, Pacific air to really warm things up across the country. Also, the storm track has been far to the north, so there isn't snow on the ground in many places to keep things colder. Last year at this time 46% of the country was snow covered. This year....only 19%. All of the statistics are just incredible considering it is early January. Usually this is our coldest month.
Now it is time for a "but." Here it is. But, the models are suggesting it will be still unseasonably mild even into early next week, but by the later portions of the week it looks like a batch of arctic air will get unleashed from the Great White North. We're on quite a wild ride to start 2012.