It almost goes without saying, but we have seen a very warm winter with very little snow. Eau Claire sits at 23.6" of snow for the season, that's 14.6" less than what we normally receive through March 7Th. Last winter Eau Claire had 62.1" through March 7Th. So from one extreme to the other when comparing the past 2 winters.
The lack of a snow pack played a huge role in our above normal temps. The scarce snow pack, especially in Minnesota and North Dakota, meant that when we got weather patterns that came from the northwest, those systems traveled over land that had only little amounts of snow. If there was a big snow pack like normal, those air masses get much colder and in turn give us the cold weather.
But since that didn't happen, the 2011/2012 winter ranks as the 5Th warmest for Eau Claire. That's going back the last 118 years of records. The average temp from December, January and February was 23.9 degrees. The list of the top five warmest winters now looks like this...
And it wasn't just in Eau Claire...below are charts depicting the departures from normal this winter for temperature and precipitation (melted liquid). Temps are way above normal, with most places in the Chippewa Valley 6-7 degrees above normal.
Due to a couple of very wet systems in the last week of February, much of the area wound up with above normal precipitation (liquid) for the winter.