Janesville74°

Temps fall, and fast

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GINA R. HEINE
January 30, 2008
— Winter tornadoes, flooding, record high temperatures, record snowfall … what next?

Add a 49 degree change in temperature over the last 24 hours to this winter’s bizarre weather.


Temps Tuesday morning started at 43 degrees before dropping to a low of minus 6 this morning, with overnight wind chills reaching minus 30 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.


“That’s pretty unusual … it was certainly an exceptional situation,” said Chris Franks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan.


Southern Wisconsin has been stuck in a number of very active weather patterns because of where the jet stream has set up, he said. Aside from a few breaks here and there, every system seems to track from the southern Plains up through our area, he said.


“It’s a little bit unusual that we’ve been in this active pattern for so long,” he said.


Snowfall already is exceeding where we should be for the whole winter, he said. Madison and Milwaukee have recorded about 50 inches of snow, which is above the average snowfall totals for the entire winter, he said.


Milwaukee also saw its warmest January day on record on Jan. 7 when the mercury hit 63 degrees, he said.


It’s hard to make a direct correlation, Franks said, but much of the unusual weather could be a result of a La Nina cycle in the Pacific, which generally brings more precipitation to the Ohio Valley. Wisconsin is on the northwestern fringe of the valley, which is why we could be seeing more snow, he said.


The 90-day outlook for the area predicts slightly above average temperatures and precipitation, Franks said.


Low temperatures kept students home from school across most of Rock and Walworth counties today. That marks the second year in a row the Janesville School District has closed schools twice in a year, district spokeswoman Sheryl Miller said.


“Before that, it was very unusual,” she said.


Janesville students will have to make up a day later this year, but when that will happen has not been decided, she said.



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