In Wisconsin, winter weather is a big business. Just ask everyone who’s been itching to ski and snowmobile. As of January 4th 2012, according to Travel Wisconsin dot com, only 3 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin we reporting good or excellent snowmobiling conditions(6" or more inches of snow on the trails). The below average snow and warm weather has also left many cross county and downhill skiing locations scrambling to make their own snow.
The Chippewa Valley wrapped up the 2011 year on a very warm and dry note. The 3 month period of October, November, and December(OND) brought an average temperature of 37.7 degrees Fahrenheit in Eau Claire. That may not sound like much, but that is actually 4.6 degrees above normal for those 3 months and ranks as the 7th warmest OND period since 1893. That’s 119 years of data so to be in the top 10 is very impressive.
October, November, and December were also very dry for both overall precipitation and snowfall. Eau Claire received 2.84” of liquid precipitation. Normally those 3 months bring 5.18” of precipitation, so we were 2.34” below normal. That ranks as the 12th driest OND since 1893.
Not only did we not have much rain, but not a lot of snow. 9.0” of snow fell in Eau Claire, but normally 15.8” falls by January 1st. That is 6.8” below normal and ranks as the 37th lowest amount of snow since 1893.
So what’s all that mean? Well to some, probably not that much. But for us meteorologists, it’s been downright boring. I love predicting snow, but that has not been the case other than a few relatively small systems that have rolled through. The 3 month period of October, November, and January were dominated by an unfavorable jet stream flow that steered many weather systems far from our neck of the woods.