Some Summer-like Conditions

The month of May has certainly been one of contrasts in North Central Wisconsin.  From wet snow adding up to anywhere from 2 to 6" in the region with highs unable to crack the mid 40s to now the return of summer with highs in the 80s & a good deal of sunshine.  We do have the potential this weekend and the first half of next week of challenging the record highs in Wausau.  As a point of reference, here is what is in the record books for the upcoming days.

Date      Rec'd High     Year
May 22         88           1925
May 23         88           1975
May 24         89           1928---New Record Set at 92
May 25         88           1972
May 26         91           1967
May 27         88           1978
May 28         89           1986

Based on the forecast, I would say the best chances of perhaps matching or exceeding these records would be on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (5/23-5/25).  Of course in order for the mercury to hit these levels, it depends not only on how much sunshine we see from day to day, but also how strong the winds are, along with whether or not showers/storms develop.  Of course along with the addition of any moisture, that affects how humid it feels out.  As a rule of thumb, it is always easier for the sun to heat up a dry ground than that same ground which has been doused with heavy downpours of rain.  I know we will probably have plenty of days in the months ahead where highs reach the 80s and 90s, but for now it is a bit more of a novelty than typical.

Meantime, with the expected increase in humidity, conditions will become more favorable in the week ahead for thunderstorms.  At this point, it is hard to pinpoint if any of those storms would be severe, but that leads nicely to a survey that that the University of North Carolina at Asheville is doing in conjunction with the National Weather Service in regards to severe storm and tornado warnings.  This survey is open to folks over the age of 18 and is being used as a way of seeing how effective the warnings are that ended up being issued.  Here's how it works.  First off, wait until the next time there are severe thunderstorm or tornado warnings in North Central Wisconsin.  Then within 72 hours of these warnings having been issued, go to the Warning Study Website.  After verifying you want to take part in the survey, a list of states will be listed and those in blue are available to complete the survey.  So in our case, Wisconsin would be highlighted in blue.  This leads to the next page which lists all of the warnings that were issued in Wisconsin during the past 72 hours, broken down by county, time of issuance and type of warning.  From there, you can see the full text of the warning issued by the local NWS office, followed by the link for filling out the survey.  The survey itself won't take more than a few minutes to fill out. Hopefully when all is said and done, the feedback will help the NWS better understand how useful the warnings are, along with what information is included or could be included that would better inform you, the public.

A quick note on who issues the Severe T-Storm/Tornado Watches and Warnings.  The watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center which is located in Norman, Oklahoma and issues the severe weather watches for all parts of the U.S.  Typically a Tornado Watch will be issued a few hours in advance of the threat of severe weather and is set to run for the duration of time that the storm threat is the greatest.  So most of the time a watch is out before a Severe T-Storm or Tornado Warning is issued.  However, there will be times when there is no watch, but instead just warnings end up coming out.  The major difference with the warnings are that they are issued by the local National Weather Service Offices for a certain part of a county that will be imminently impacted by storms.  This is a change to just a few years back when a Severe T-Storm or Tornado Warning would be issued for an entire county, which could end up being a moot point for parts of a county that the storms may have already passed or just missed altogether.  Anyhow, when those warnings come out, that is the time to take shelter and hunker down until this possibly unruly weather exits your area. 

For you at home, if a watch is issued, be prepared for storms and when a warning comes out, get indoors and check in with us here in the Weather Lab on 24/7 Weather and Newschannel 7 for the latest on what is going on and to find out exactly how the storms may impact your area.

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