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Monday, October 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 51.0° F  Overcast
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Madison sets 365-day precipitation record
Old mark washed away by late spring deluge
This radar graphic shows the 14-day total observed precipitation in Wisconsin on June 14; the pink zones are in excess of 10 inches.
This radar graphic shows the 14-day total observed precipitation in Wisconsin on June 14; the pink zones are in excess of 10 inches.
Credit:National Weather Service

Scott Lindstrom of the Space Science and Engineering Center at UW-Madison checks in with the news that we have just lived through the wettest 365 consecutive days on record in Madison. An instrumentation technician, Lindstrom, 47, has an innate curiosity about these kinds of data-driven phenomena -- along with sharp eyes for scouring the historical records and the patience for crunching the numbers.

In this case, the Truax precipitation records date back to 1943. But Lindstrom did not stop there: He included the records taken at North hall on the UW campus, which date back to 1896.

The previous mark for 365 wettest consecutive days occurred from Aug. 25, 1992 to Aug. 24, 1993, when 51.61 inches of precipitation was measured at Truax.

The new mark: 55.76 inches, which fell between June 17, 2007 and June 16, 2008.

The record for a calendar year, by the way, is 52.91 inches, which fell between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1881, which Lindstrom describes as "a famously wet year in the Midwest -- when Marquette, Des Moines and Madison all set records."

Anyone who lived in Madison through what was by far the snowiest winter on record might have deduced that we had a shot at an impressive precipitation record like this.

Speaking of the Madison snowfall record that was set this winter, as of today it stands at 101.4 inches according to the National Weather Service's Milwaukee/Sullivan office. So what? So this: The seasonal total could climb even higher. This may sound improbable, but consider: The National Weather Service measures seasonal snowfall totals starting from July 1 and continuing through June 30 of the following year. According to records kept by the State Climatology Office, there is no modern precedent for June snowfall in Madison. But the lack of precedent does not preclude the possibility that a precedent may be set in the future -- leaving two full weeks during which the 101.4-inch total could climb before the seasonal snowfall calendar turns over!

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