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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, April 21, 2014

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Milwaukee's weather on the first day of the year varies quite a bit despite occurring deep in the heart of winter.
Milwaukee's weather on the first day of the year varies quite a bit despite occurring deep in the heart of winter. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Milwaukee's New Year's Day weather history

The Milwaukee area’s weather on New Year’s Day has varied tremendously in recent years. Plus, despite occurring just 3 weeks or so prior to the mid-point of the cold season, recent New Year’s Days have skewed warm. While January 1, 2013 was cold with a high of only 18 degrees, over the past 10 years we’ve had as many New Year’s Days with highs in the 40s as we’ve had with highs in the teens and 20s combined.

The average high temperature on January 1st is in the upper 20s.

The past 10 years

Over the past 10 New Year’s Days, we’ve had high temperatures in the:

  • 40s: 3 times
  • 30s: 4 times
  • 20s: 1 time
  • 10s: 2 times

Here are some more interesting facts about Milwaukee’s recent New Year’s Day weather:

  • The warmest high temperature was 45 degrees in 2011 and 2007.
  • The coldest low temperature was 6 degrees in 2008.
  • The most snowfall was a half-inch in 2012.
  • The greatest snow depth was 6 inches in 2007.
  • It rained 0.46 inches in 2005 and 0.33 inches in 2006.

All-time records

  • The warmest New Year’s Day in Milwaukee occurred in 1897 when we hit 56 degrees.
  • The coldest was in both 1968 and 1969 when the low temperature was 11 degrees below zero.
  • The most snow to fall was 10.3 inches in 1948.
  • The greatest snow depth was 30 inches in 2001.

The New Year’s Eve snowstorm myth

This myth is on life support. In fact, it’s mostly only still being perpetuated by people who are in their 40s or older. The myth dates back to the mid 1970s when snowstorms hit Milwaukee on back-to-back years.

On Dec. 31, 1977, a snowstorm brought almost 8 inches to Milwaukee. Just one year later, on New Year’s Eve 1978, over a foot of snow fell across the area.

In more recent years, however, snow on New Year’s Eve has been virtually nil. In 2009, 0.1 inches fell in Milwaukee, and trace amounts were reported in 2008, 2007 and 2005. That’s it.

In fact, there has only been one New Year’s Eve in the past 10 years when there has even been more than an inch of snow on the ground (6 inches in 2007).

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