Wisconsin Weather

JAN 15, 2018 | 25" Lake Effect Snow in Door County

Event Type
3 - Moderate
Sun Jan 14 - Tue Jan 16, 2018

Event Summary

Strong clipper system brought two days of snow to Wisconsin. Lake effect snow produced an outrageous 25" of snow on the northeastern tip of Door county in northeast Wisconsin Sunday through Tuesday morning. This was the biggest snow for Door county since December 29, 2015 and most snow reported in our records going back to 2008. Our forecast called for 6-10" and that quickly went out the window. The heavy snow totals were due to a heavy lake effect snow band that pivoted over the peninsula. Heavy snow was reported all the way to Cedar Grove, WI. Elsewhere across the state, southern Wisconsin observed 4-7" of snow with snow-to-liquid ratios on 20:1 to 30:1. The forecast bust occurred in north-central Wisconsin where only about 1-3" was observed. More lake effect up along the southern shore of lake Superior. This was a long duration event. 

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Last Update: January 14

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Looking at historical data for Oshkosh. We are at 4.1" snow accum. This is the lowest since the 2014-15 winter which is only a few years back. 2012 had 0.9" through Jan 10. So lack of snow is not uncommon at KOSH. What is uncommon is the combination of below avg temp and below avg snow. On average more cold = more snow. There is one year with this relationship that had same level of snow accum (<=5"). 1925 was much warmer in the second half of winter, precip at average, snow below avg. We don't know much else about 1925. This demonstrates that it is rare to be this cold and not have the snow to go with it. It translates into a boring, cold start to winter but I would be surprised in this trend continued into the second half of the 2017-18 winter. 
60 DAY PRECIPITATION TREND - Snowfall has not been distributed equally across Wisconsin during the first half of winter. This liquid precipitation (including snow melted to water) departure from average map shows northern Wisconsin has come through near average. They are doing alright. Lake effect has helped in upper Michigan. Meanwhile folks in the south are facing a 2.0" deficit. It has been colder than average, which should mean more snow/less precip. The storm track has been out of the northwest bringing dry Canadian clipper systems, efficient but narrow snows. What exposed southern WI/northern IL this winter is the lack of a big storm (snow or rain). We'll see if we can change this trend in the months ahead.
Just one of those years I guess
Image on the left was the initial forecast from Saturday. Right is from this morning. The southern trend in the last 24 hours was unexpected and the trend continued right through the start of the event. Snow was clumped over the southwest and northeast and not evenly distributed across the rest of Wisconsin. Never make the same mistake twice. I learned a few things. First, broad brushing WI with 3-6" did not work. I could have lowered them in the north. The map in between these (not pictured) was actually pretty close. Second was to post snow maps too early that forces you to bias previous ideas. There will be changes before the next system. 
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