Wisconsin State Climatology Office
 Steve Vavrus, PhD, Director & State Climatologist
 John Young, , PhD, Director Emeritus & Professor Emeritus
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Big Changes Afoot at the Wisconsin State Climatology Office

    Thanks to a recent grant from the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the Rural Partnerships Institute (RPI) at UW-Madison, the Wisconsin State Climatology Office is being revitalized. This follows 20 years of unfunded, part-time staffing. As part of this transition, Dr. Steve Vavrus has been named Director and State Climatologist as of January 2023, while former Director John Young has become Emeritus Director. Dr. Ed Hopkins will remain in his role as Assistant State Climatologist. The RPI will also support the new Wisconsin Mesonet to provide a network of real-time weather and soil moisture data across all 72 counties.
    We look forward to this opportunity to enhance the services of the Wisconsin State Climatology Office to all the residents of our state!

The Wisconsin State Climatology Office is affiliated with the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research (CCR) and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Our mission is to:

  • provide evidence of climate change & variability through graphical data analyses,
  • provide climate information to Wisconsin residents, climate scientists and government agencies,
  • develop "value-added" products for users and impact applications,
  • conduct applied climate research.

Detailed annual summaries are found on the AASC web site.

This office is a partner with Midwestern Regional Climate Center in providing climate services to the public.
Collaborations with Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) research on climate impacts are now underway.

If you would like assistance finding the climate data you want, visit our Guide to Wisconsin Weather and Climate Data.
Short initial inquiries for data or staff assistance staff are free. More substantial efforts are covered by our Service Charge statement.

January 2023 Wisconsin Climate Summary

Steve Vavrus, PhD, State Climatologist

Warm and gloomy

2023 began with an extremely warm start to the year in Wisconsin, with the state-wide average temperature of 23.0 degrees being 7.7 degrees higher than the long-term average (1895 to present). This anomaly put the month as the 5th warmest January on record, and the daily minimum temperatures were even more extreme: 2nd warmest in the 129 years of data. All parts of the state were exceptionally warm, ranging from 8 to 11 degrees above normal, but far north-central and northeast Wisconsin had the largest anomalies of all.

On the wet side

January was also wetter than normal in Wisconsin (37% above average statewide) but not exceptionally so (27th wettest on record). Virtually all portions of the state received more precipitation than average, except for slightly dry anomalies in the east-central region.

For snow enthusiasts, January all depended on which part of the state you live in. During much of the month, a diagonal line from southwest to northeast Wisconsin represented the snow margin, with a deep snowpack in the northwest but mostly bare ground southeast of this boundary. A late-month snowstorm hitting southern Wisconsin on the 28th finally brought snow cover to the entire state to close out the month, but otherwise January's snowfall was fairly meager in the central and eastern portions of the state.



Oh, drear!

Besides the extreme warmth, the most remarkable aspect of January was the seemingly relentless cloudiness. Based on daily sky conditions (sunrise to sunset) reported by the National Weather Service, all six of the "first-order" weather stations around Wisconsin reported at least 70% sky cover in January, exceeding average conditions by 15 to 25 percentage points. Compared with all Januaries for data available back to 2006, January was the cloudiest in all these cities except La Crosse, which ranked second.

The gloominess was most extreme in the far south and east, where Milwaukee suffered through clouds 88% of the time while Madison was nearly as high (86.5%) and had the largest positive anomaly of 25%. To top it off, fog was reported on 24 of Madison's 31 January days! Averaged across all six cities, last month was by far Wisconsin's cloudiest January in the 18 years of data (sky coverage 79% of the time = 18% above normal).

2021 Assessment : Wisconsin's Changing Climate Impacts and Solutions for a Warmer Climate -- Report by Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI)

See the "Full Report"

This second WICCI report follows the initial report issued in 2011. Data collected across Wisconsin in the intervening years reveal show continued warming, increased precipitation (both rain and snow), and more frequent extreme rainfall events.

  • Wisconsin State Climate Summary 2022. NOAA Technical Report NESDIS 150-WI.
    -- available at https://statesummaries.ncics.org/chapter/wi/

    This new updated Wisconsin State Climate Summary for 2022, which has been produced by NOAA as part of its State Climate Summaries for all 50 states, identifies recent local conditions for Wisconsin and provide insights about the state's climate outlook based on historical trends.

    Citation: Frankson, R., K.E. Kunkel, S.M. Champion, and L. Sun, 2022: Wisconsin State Climate Summary 2022. NOAA Technical Report NESDIS 150-WI. NOAA/NESDIS, Silver Spring, MD, 6 pp.

  • Global Climate Variability & Warming Trend: 2021 Update -- A set of slides from Jan 2021 NOAA/NASA briefing on "Annual Global Analysis for 2021"

  • National Climate Assessment -- Assessing the U.S. Climate

    --- U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has Congressional mandate to conduct a state-of-the-science synthesis of climate impacts and trends across U.S. regions and sectors every four years, known as the National Climate Assessment (NCA). These assessments summarize the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.
    Recent assessment reports:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    ---An intergovernmental body of the United Nations tasked with the responsibility for assessing the science related to human-induced climate change.
    Recent assessment reports:

    • Sixth assessment report (2021/2022)

      Summary for Policymakers of the report entitled "Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" released in Feb 2022. The entire report or technical summaries can be downloaded. [IPCC 6th Assessment Report]

    • Fifth assessment report (2014)

      IPCC Report: Climate Change 2013  - Six years of new observations and analyses made this the most authoritative scientific report for the time. Physical Science Conclusions released in September 2013.  

  • The American Meteorological Society (AMS) posted an Information Statement on Climate Change on 20 Aug 2012.

  • Climate Literacy -- Understanding the essential principles.

  • For additional climate-change information, see our Climate Change page.

  • To Contact Us: Wisconsin State Climatology Office
    1225 W. Dayton St.
    Madison, WI 53706
    Phone: 608–263–2374
    Fax: 608–262–0166
    Email: STCLIM@aos.wisc.edu