Posts Tagged ‘weather’
After some amazingly warm January days, winter has returned with fury this morning. Forecasters are predicting between 5-7 inches in the Baraboo area today. We can tell you that while city streets were not too bad this morning, roads up in the Baraboo hills were already snow covered and slippery by dawn. The upside of today’s snow is that with temperatures predicted to remain in the 20s & 30s over the next few days, cross country skiers and snowshoers may finally get the opportunity to play.
Have a nice picture to share from today’s snowstorm? We invite you to share your Baraboo area snaps on our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/skilletcreek.
You’ve probably noticed that the news is filling with predictions of the coming winter weather Apocalypse. That means of course that AccuWeather.com has released their annual winter predictions for 2011-2011. AccuWeather.com is calling for the worst winter weather in the nation to hit Chicago with Minneapolis predicted to suffer this winter’s worst chill. Well, here in the heart of Wisconsin we’re probably in for both! Read the rest of this entry »
Snow over the weekend here in the Baraboo hills didn’t fill us with hope that summer would be coming anytime soon, but as someone on our Facebook said, “Don’t worry, our three months of bad sledding will arrive.” Well, it won’t arrive soon enough for me, that’s for sure. Forecasters are calling for a chance of snow every day through Friday in our area. That’s Fantastic! (Hang in there.)
Have you ever wondered if there was any rhyme or reason to the media’s modern weather hyperbole? Are words like battered, hit, pummeled, savaged or even snowmageddon measurable? Can you sort out any real information in today’s meteorological amplifications? Well, we’ve been looking into that and here’s what we’ve discovered.
Winter weather exaggeration has become almost an art form. Like so much of the modern news media these days, even meteorologists feel the need to blow things all out of proportion in the futile hope that they will somehow stand out above the din. Of course it never works because, well, everyone’s doing it. The bottom line for listeners, is that it’s becoming harder to translate all the hypertensive verbal acrobatics back into “news you can use”. Or is it? Read the rest of this entry »
In Wisconsin, we’re always talking about the weather. In Baraboo like any small town I suppose, we’re always talking about how the “Big City” (Madison in our case) forecasts for our area are always wrong. Especially when it comes to reporting the temperatures. Well, let’s not be too hard on them. They’re not always wrong, and to be fair the Baraboo hills make things difficult. Take yesterday for instance. How cold was it here in the Baraboo area as the sun began to rise over the bluffs? Well, that depended on where you were.
Yesterday morning at 7:30am, according to clock at the east branch of the Baraboo National Bank it was minus 7f. Those of us who live on the east side of Baraboo know that clock is notoriously wrong in summer, due I suppose to being surrounded by black top, but it’s pretty accurate in the winter. Yesterday as I drove by the bank on my way to Merrimac, my car’s thermometer agreed. It was indeed -7. Toasty! In fact, it was quite a bit warmer than at my house which is located in a much more rural and open part of the Baraboo river valley. In my driveway it was -15F. That’s an 8 degree difference! Well, that does make sense. Temperatures in urban areas are generally warmer than in rural areas. When cities are warmer than the country around them they are referred to as “Urban Heat Islands”. Yep, even a small town can be an island! Urban heat islands exist because we build our cities with heat absorbing materials. In addition but to a much lesser degree, all of our stuff; cars, trucks, homes, office buildings, etc., give off heat. The end result is that it’s warmer in the city than in the country.
Now as I’ve said, my car, the bank and even the blinding new Sauk County Fair sign all agree on the air temperature (in the winter at least). Keep that in mind as we travel along out in the country, up over the bluffs and back down the other side until we reach Lake Wisconsin.
Driving past the blank and the Sauk County Fairgrounds to the south, there is a sudden, quick drop in elevation down to the river. It’s not much of a drop, but still at Circus World Museum it was -10 according to my trusty jeep. (Yeah, this is totally a non-scientific case at best!) I sat there for a minute to let the beast acclimate. The gauge didn’t move from -10. I headed out of town on Hwy 113. The temperature again began to drop. -12, -13, – 14, -13. Now away from town, and nearly 2 miles from where I started my trip, the air temps again clung around -14. Near Clark Creek where the air was at its most frigid, the land is flat, open and divided by the Baraboo river.
Continuing south under the ice blue sky, I soon began to climb the Baraboo bluffs. The temperature rose with the changes in elevation. -7 again. -4, -1, 0 and up. At the highest point on the bluff the temperature reached +4 and maintained for some time as I drove across the crest. If I accept what I’d been seeing, the temperature on top of the bluff was a full 19 degrees warmer than in my driveway down in the valley just some 3 miles north. Amazing! The highest elevation along Hwy 113 is just over 1300 feet, a difference of about 430 feet from my starting point down in the valley. Obviously the bluffs do make a difference in Baraboo’s weather, but how much? Well, that’s the question. The bluffs are tiny when compared to “real” mountains. Still it seems that 400 or so feet can create mountain-like phenomena such as strong localized winds or even snow caps! Albeit very rarely.
Continuing on. Now, just before you begin the long decent down the south face of the Baraboo range, you can see far off into the distance. You can see the valley directly below, then Lake Wisconsin further to the south, and finally distant hills fading out to the horizon. Now up until this point the sky had been perfectly clear. (Typical of brutally cold winter morning.) However, directly below at the foot of the hills sat a thick bank of fog. It was not wide mind you, no more than half a mile. You could easily see lake Wisconsin and off into the distance. No, the fog bank was simply hugging the southern foot of the bluffs like a “draft dodger” at the foot of a door, but reaching east and west and far as the eye could see. I checked my thermometer as I began the decent. It was still +2.
Soon I was enveloped by fog and the air temperature was quickly dropping as well. On County Road DL, near Devil’s Head Ski Resort the fog was too thick to see much beyond the road. Not only had the humidity risen sharply, but the temperature had fallen once again to hover around -11.
I turned south toward Lake Wisconsin and the village of Merrimac. Soon I came out of the fog and the temperature began to rise. Along the banks of frozen Lake Wisconsin the temperature read minus 7 under a bright morning sun. The weather in Baraboo and in Merrimac were pretty much identical on this cold winter day. Yet, in between the tow communities there was a change of nearly 20 degrees and an area of thick fog while the rest of the region was clear.
Returning to Baraboo I experienced the exact same circumstances. Taking less than an hour full circle I was not surprised to see the air temp on the east side of Baraboo was the same as when I had left. In my driveway I watched as the temp dropped once more.. -9, -11, -14.. I went into the house and turned on the morning news. The weather guy came on.. Current temperature in Baraboo? Um, no.
At 6 am this morning it was 16 degrees and light snow was swirling around Baraboo hills area. If you have a look at the Cascade Mountain Snow Cam, you’ll see their enjoying a (man-made) blizzard as they do their best to jump start central Wisconsin’s ski season. Well, with Thanksgiving Day later in the week and Black Friday advertising at an ever increasing and irritating din, we thought it’s probably time to accept that winter is upon us.
So let’s talk Winter!! Over the next couple months temperatures here in south-central Wisconsin will average in the high 20′s to low 30s. Average lows in January can hang in the single digits. While we do get snow, it’s not as much as you might think. According to the Wisconsin State Climatology Office, average snowfall in the state for November runs around 5 inches. Madison, in the south-central part of the state, gets around 3. (There’s nothing much on the ground at the moment.) In December & January we can expect nearly 11 inches of snow per month in our part of the state. While that’s a lot to shovel, it’s not much of a base for the ski hills. This is why we are talking about snow machines instead of reading dispatches from the Baraboo Hills Avalanche Center or reading blog posts by Marty the summit cat. (I want a summit cat!)
The problem with averages is that they are made up of highs and lows. Wisconsin weather can be extremely variable. Heck, yesterday it was 55f and foggy and this morning it’s 15f as the sun rises over the Baraboo range. Just to make the point, the long-range meteorologist over at AccuWeather.com is predicting a winter “Battle Zone” for the Great Lakes area. In other words.. “Who knows?!”, which is why here in Wisconsin it seems we’re always talking about the weather.
Oh yes, and I do have one more bit of winter weather trivia for you… According to NOAA, we have a 61-75% chance of a White Christmas here in central Wisconsin. So at least we’ve got that going for us. Have a splendid day. Dress warm. It’s cold out there!
- Cascade Mountain Snow Cams
- Devil’s Head Resort Snow Cam
- AccuWeather’s 2010-2011 Winter Forecast
- Wisconsin Winter Climate – Wisconsin State Climatology Office
- NOAA’s White Christmas Report
- Average Snowfalls By City
- Mount Washington Observatory – Home of Marty The Summit Cat
* Image is a screen cap from Cascade Mountain’s Snow Cam early this am.
A near record low pressure system will be moving over Minnesota over the next couple days causing high winds and stormy conditions around the upper great lakes region over the next couple days. At its peak we could see gusts of wind up to 60 mph by Wednesday. For the next couple days it will be a good idea to make sure objects around your property are secure. You should also be careful when driving as sudden gusts of wind can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. While it’s probably a good idea to remain indoors, for some nature lovers it will be hard not to get outdoors to find a tall hill or open field where one can feel the full force of this rare storm. We don’t recommend it, but we may have to do it. Be Safe!