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Wisconsin
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Climatology of Memorial Day in Wisconsin

Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., Assistant State Climatologist
University of Wisconsin

  • The Memorial Day weekend is often considered to be the start of summer across the country.  However, in Wisconsin, Memorial Day can have weather that could be considered to be more like mid-spring than summer-like. 

  • Part of the variety of weather across the Badger State relates to the timing of the holiday.  Beginning in 1971, the Memorial Day has been celebrated on the last Monday in May.  Since Memorial Day is now a movable 3-day weekend, the weekend can be as early as the 4th week in May in some years (with Saturday, the 23rd of May) or as late as the 5th weekend (with Monday falling on the 31st).  Until 1971, the traditional Memorial Day was on the 30th.

  • Average high temperatures on the Memorial Day weekend range from the upper 60s to low 70s, with the lower readings in northern Wisconsin and near Lake Michigan in the east, and higher readings across western Wisconsin near the Mississippi.  Occasionally, temperatures reach the 90 degree mark. Average low temperatures range from the upper 40s to low 50s.  Sometimes, temperatures have fallen to the mid to low 30s, especially in low lying regions.   

    Ave Highs*

    Ave Lows*

    Record Daily Highs  (deg F)

    Record Daily Lows (deg F)

    Eau Claire

    72

    49

    96

    35

    Green Bay

    69

    49

    92

    35

    La Crosse

    73

    52

    93

    37

    Madison

    72

    48

    91

    30

    Milwaukee

    67

    50

    91

    33

    Wausau

    70

    48

    94

    33

    * For the observed Monday holiday since 1971

  • Typically, the chance of measurable precipitation (rainfall totals of at least 0.01 inches) on any day during the last week of May ranges from 30 to 40%.  As a result, some precipitation is likely to fall over the 3 day weekend.  Using the 30 years from 1971 to 2000, the number of weekends were tabulated and arranged from dry weekends with no measurable precipitation through those that were relatively soggy, with all three days having rain.  Dry weeks occur approximately 20% of the time, while completely soggy weekends occur less often.

    Weekend  precipitation occurrences 

     

    No precip

    1 day with precip

    2 days with precip

    3 days with precip

    Max Daily Precip*
    (inches)

    Eau Claire

    5

    11

    9

    5

    1.30

    Green Bay

    8

    12

    7

    3

    1.06

    La Crosse

    5

    14

    10

    1

    0.63

    Madison

    6

    9

    11

    4

    0.41

    Milwaukee

    6

    12

    10

    2

    1.25

    Wausau

    6

    11

    8

    5

    1.03

    * For the observed Monday holiday since 1971

  • Snow has fallen across WIsconsin on the Memorial Day weekend on at least one occasion in recent history.  Heavy snow fell in a band from southwest Wisconsin to the Fox Valley in northeast Wisconsin on Memorial Day of 1947.

  • Many related graphs and links may be on the Climate Watch Page and the Wisconsin Climate History Page.


         



Latest revision: 28 May 2004

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URL Address: http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/WI-seasons/Wis-memorial_day.html