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Weathering The Winter: Another 100+ Inch Snow Year in Madison Coming Soon?

Snow is no joke in Madison, Wisconsin. As folks bundle up and layer up, they prepare for several inches of snow, as Wisconsin winters necessitate preparation. Let’s look at snowfall from around Wisconsin. 

Here is a county by county breakdown for the entire state of Wisconsin for 2023:














(Data Sourced From

Image displays a map Wisconsin provided by the National Weather Service for the Milwaukee/Sullivan area. This map averages 30 years of snowfall from 1981-2010. Southern Wisconsin only saw 31.9-40 inches of snow. Central Wisconsin saw about 40.1-50 inches of snow. Smaller ringlets in Northern Wisconsin range from 100-170 inches. A data key indicates the following average snowfalls: MKE 46.9 inches, MSN 50.9 inches GRB 51.4 inches LSE 43.3 inches, EAU 46.8 inches, AUW 59.6 inches, IMT 58.4 inches, DBQ 41.9 inches, DHL 86.1 inches. Retrieved from

Infographic from the National Weather Service of Milwaukee for 2022-2023 shows that for December-February the average temperature was 26.3 degrees and the average rainfall was 7.16 inches. The yearly total snowfall was 40.3 inches. Retrieved from National Weather Service Milwaukee (2022) 

Notably on January 28th, 2023, there was a newsworthy snowfall. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Heavy snow occurred mainly during the afternoon and evening of Saturday, January 28, 2023, leading to a swath of 6-10 inches of snow accumulation from Dodgeville through Madison and down through Racine County, with some locally higher totals.

This event was primarily driven by strong warm air advection and frontogenesis aloft at the 850mb to 700mb level which provided strong lift and saturation within the dendritic growth zone. Multiple shortwave troughs at the 500mb level also moved overhead through Saturday leading to multiple waves of banded precipitation. The areas that saw the most accumulation were run over by the most bands on Saturday, including a particularly prolonged heavy snow band that set up from Milwaukee to Madison Saturday evening. 

Official snow totals from our Official Climate Observation sites at the Milwaukee and Madison airports measured 7.9 inches and 7.3 inches of accumulation respectively. The clustering of the highest totals looked to be in Racine County, with localized maxima of 10 to 10.5 inches stretching back west along I-94 and through Madison.” 

Let’s turn to looking at the projected forecast for this year. 

According to ​​NOAA, the winter of 2023-24 will probably experience primarily the effects of what could be a powerful El Niño. That means a mild, dry winter is likely for much of the northern tier of the U.S. The southeastern U.S. should expect a wetter-than-average winter. Wisconsin is expected to see warmer than average temperatures and average or below-average levels of precipitation, according to NOAA. Average snowfall during an El Niño year is about 42 inches compared to the average of 46.3 inches across the 70-year span the National Weather Service has tracked El Niño. Note, there's a stark contrast in snowfall totals between weak and strong El Niño years. Since 1950, weak El Niño years have averaged 45.4 inches while all moderate or stronger El Niño years averaged 39.5 inches. This year's El Niño is on track to be a strong episode, NWS has said.

This graphic is a Seasonal Temperature Outlook for December, January, and February of 2023-2024. It shows a map of the United States with a key for temperatures around the country.  The northern corners such as Washington, Oregon, and Maine will experience temperatures above their average. Making a curve, parts of central California, northern Nevada, central Idaho, Southern Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and most of New England will likely experience above temperatures. Using the same shape, southern California, central Nevada, Northern Wyoming, South Dakota, Southern Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Southern Indiana, Kentucky, Northern Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Northern Carolina will experience leaning above temperatures. The rest will have near normal temperatures. Retrieved from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2023). 

This graphic from the Farmer’ Almanac shows the map of the United States and their associated expected weather patterns for 2023-2024. For Example, the Pacific Northwest will be “seasonably cold, wet.” The West Coast will have “wintry temps, seasonally stormy.” The Central United States will be “cold, with average snowfall.” Central Southern States including Texas will be “unseasonably cold and stormy.” The Midwest will be “cold and stormy.” New England and the East Coast will be “cold and snowy, frosty, flakey, slushy.” The traditional South will be “chilled and wet.” Retrieved from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2023). 

We may not have a 100 inch snowfall this year, but tell that to residents in Madison that lived through the 2007-2008 winter with a whopping 101.4 inches of snow. Snow reports, like science, can never be 100% accurate. As climate change brings unpredictable weather and weather extremes, it’s always best to prepare for the worst. It doesn’t hurt to have our contact information, so the next time we get 100 inches of snow, we’ll be the one you call. 

Phone Number: (608) 400-4555

Thanks for being a STEM enthusiast with us!

~ Nina Petrosino, Snow Scholars Writer

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