The snow has stopped flying. The sun is rising over a landscape blanketed with fresh snow. And weather professionals have started tallying the data on yesterday's blizzard. The numbers are impressive.
The National Weather Service Milwaukee/Sullivan office posted the daily climate summary for Madison at 12:45 a.m. on Thursday morning. The official total snowfall yesterday: 11.9 inches, a record for that date.
The total so far for February: 15.5 inches -- 13.5 inches above the Madison average for the first six days of February. Yesterday's snowstorm also pushed the inch count since Dec. 1 to 72.2 -- almost triple the 27.5-inch Madison average for Dec. 1-Feb. 6 -- and 73.7 inches since July 1.
(As someone who enjoys winter, I'm going to pause here for a moment and interject, Yeeeeeeeehawwwww!)
That latter number pushes this winter into a tie for third place on the all-time list of snowiest winters in Madison, according to Wisconsin Climatology Office records dating from 1884. The top three winters in this regard, in reverse order:
- 1993-94 and this year (so far): 73.7 inches
- 1885-86: 75.9 inches
- 1978-79: 76.1 inches (What a great winter that was!)
Some other Madison numbers to note from yesterday: The high temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the low 21 -- neither figure anywhere near a record (normals for the date: 28 and 12). Yesterday's winds averaged 16.9 miles per hour out of the northeast, with a maximum sustained speed of 29 mph and a highest gust speed of 37 mph.
A statement issued by the Madison Streets Department on Thursday morning likewise focused on numbers:
13.3" of snow. 2nd highest single storm event total ever in Madison. (Highest was 17.1" on Dec. 3, 1990)
In 1990, it took us 3 days to completely get the City plowed and 11 days before the cleanup was complete.
We are at 75.1' for the year which is only 1" below the all time record of 76.1" set in the winter of 1978-79.
More snow predicted for Sat. and Sun.
Does anyone see a pattern for this winter?
Trying to move 13.3" of snow takes a lot of extra time. Our crews have to take extra cuts to get the snow back as far as possible. There were a lot of vehicles stranded on streets during the evening and overnight hours. We have had a great deal of difficulty plowing many streets because of these stranded cars. Our vehicles were getting stuck as well trying to push the snow off the roads. There is a lot of work to be done yet with regards to cleaning up the corners and the intersections but for the most part I am very pleased with the snow plowing effort. About 12 hours after a storm of this magnitude ended, the majority of our streets have had plows on them and traffic is able to get around.
We will be continuing with the cleanup today and tonight. We will be applying salt on the salt routes this morning. All available crews will again be assigned to the snow cleanup. We will be suspending Large Item collection today and maybe further. Refuse and Recycling collection will take place as scheduled. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Snow removal will begin tonight as well as the alternate side plowing during the second night of the snow emergency.
Despite the record snowfall, the precipitation measurement of 0.78 inches fell short of the record 0.94 inches set in 1904 -- suggesting that yesterday's snow was not as high in moisture content as it might have been. At 7.10 inches, however, Madison has more than doubled the average 3.15 precipitation measurement for the period Dec. 1-Feb. 6.
There's only a dusting of snow to go before reaching the 1978-79 total. Given the forecast for ongoing light snow through the next week, it's looking likely that this winter will easily surpass it and be one for the record books.