The New Climate Normals

You hear us refer  to it on a regular basis, that being the average temperatures and precipitation for given date, month or even year.  These numbers provide perspective on how the weather we experience at any given time compares to what has been the case in Wausau over the past 30 years.  Well every ten years, the climate normals get updated, shifted to include the most recent decade and in the process dropping out the temps and precip from 40 years ago.  That's not to say our historical data from the 1970s on back isn't important, especially since we always keep on file the records in various weather categories.  However, just as the weather is always changing, so too does our climate.

With that in mind, there are some notable adjustments that have been made climatologically speaking in Wausau. Let's start out with the summer end of the scale.  The average high temperature during our hottest time of the year through much of July and early August has decreased to 80 degrees, down 1 degree from before.  In addition, the first week of August used to maintain average highs in the low 80s, but the update now pulls those highs back into the upper 70s.  Not a dramatic change, but perhaps there have been some cooler Augusts in the past 10 years.  Another notable change is the total precipitation for the year, which has also decreased down nearly an inch from 33.36" to 32.41".  This adjustment can easily be explained by the abundance of dry summers that we have all experienced, with the exception of this and last summer.

Shifting to our cold weather season, January tends to be the coldest in North Central Wisconsin.  Up until now, the coldest average highs & lows were 22 and 3.  Well apparently we've had a few milder nights in the last decade, and a slight bump up in the high too.  Now the lowest numbers during the 1st month of the year are 23 and 6.  One climate statistic that we figured was going to go up was that of snowfall, and we were right.  From 1970-2000 the average seasonal snowfall in Wausau was 58.6".  Now from 1980-2010 the average is 59.6".  Yup, we decreased by nearly 1" in rainfall, while upped the amount by an inch in snow.  Just remember that Wausau had snowfall amounts over the past 5 years that were some of the highest in a single month and in the top 5 all time for an entire season in some instances.

Nevertheless, one thing that is safe to say is that it is rare to have a day when the high, low & precipitation are right on the normal marks.  The better way to look at it is as long as the weather conditions are in the ballpark for that given time of year, we are still in good shape.

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