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Madison and Green Bay Wisconsin Sets December Snowfall Records, All-Month Record

By Joe D'Aleo
Monday, January 5, 2009

As of December 31, 2008, Madison, Wisconsin set a new record snowfall in December at 40.4 inches, breaking the previous December mark of 35 inches set in 2000 as well as the previous monthly mark of 37 inches that fell in February 1994 making December 2008 Madison’s snowiest month ever on record!  Madison is 26 inches above the average for December and is 9 inches higher than last year to date for the season at this time (with 44.7 inches this year).

With about three months to go in the winter of 2008-09, Madison ended up with a total amount of  45 inches of snow for a season already before the calendar is flipped to the new year with the brunt of winter still to come.

Though heavy rains melted some of the snow on the 27th , producing flooding, snow came back along with the cold. The flooding may be a preview of what may be ahead again for the spring.

Photos – WISC-TV Madison












































For now, this is great news for skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts, kids with sleds and anyone else who subscribes to the notion that as long as it’s going to be cold outside, there might as well be plenty of snow to enjoy. Not so great for iceboaters and ice-skating enthusiasts. I am an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin and one of my 7 roommates built iceboats which we enjoyed on a few of light snow though very cold winters of the late 1960s on beautiful Lake Mendota, one of three of Wisconsin’s Capitol city lakes.


And Madison is not alone, From Patrick Powell, TV meteorologist in Green Bay, WI, on FOX 11, WLUK and home of the Green Bay Packers the following interesting statistics:

Some records that were over 100 years old have already fallen and some more are in jeopardy.


First of all let’s start with December. We have already broken the record for the most snow on record in the month of December. Here are the top 5, notice the major difference between 2nd and 3rd place.


December 2008 – 45.8

December 1887 – 36.4” 

December 2000 – 28.9” 

December 1977 – 27.0” 

December 1990 – 26.9”  


This month is also the second snowiest month, of any single month, on record for Green Bay, falling only behind March of 1888. Here are the top 5, and please notice that 3 of the months are from 1887 and 1888….. which are the first 2 years that Green Bay kept records. 


March 1888 – 48.2” 

December 2008 – 45.8”

December 1887 – 36.4”

January 1887 – 32.5”

March 1923 – 32.1” 


Usually we look at seasonal snowfall for records. For the season we are currently at 52.5”, which is a surprising 30” above the average so far. The National Weather Service went back and verified some of the records from the late 1880’s…. so last year we only had access to records since 1890. Anyway, last seasons snowfall was the record since 1891 at 87.4”, and at this point last year we only had 18.6”.  Needless to say, we are way ahead of last years pace. The average snowfall for Green Bay is 53.1” for the whole season. So on average we receive 29.6% of our snowfall by December 26th, extrapolating this year out for the season would yield a total of 137.2”! 


Occasionally we will look at snowfall by calendar year. For snow it rarely makes sense to do this but for 2008 it is interesting. Here is how 2008 has added up so far…. 


January – 28.5”

February – 24.5 “

March – 4.3”

April – 5.3”

November – 6.7”

December – 45.8”  

 TOTAL – 115.1” 


That puts the 2008 calendar year 2nd on the record books for snowfall Here are the top 3 calendar year snowfalls. 


1887 – 123.8”

2008 -- 115.1

1888 – 110.8”


Again, notice that the two records surrounding this year are from the 1880’s, and again those are the first two years that records were kept here in Green Bay. I know we should all enjoy the snow, but if you would rather you can just browse pictures in the Fox 11 weather photo gallery here. Feel free to send that link to your friends in Arizona or Florida so they can all be jealous of the snow they are missing! 


In Bismarck, ND, Meteorologist Janine Vining, at the weather service office in Bismarck, says Bismarck had a record snowfall in December with 33.3 inches, breaking the mark set in 1916 with 45.8 so far this season.. Fargo, North Dakota December snowfall total as of end of the year was 33.5 inches, which broke the previous record of 29.2 inches set in December 1927, according to the weather service. Grand Forks, ND also set a record with 30.1 inches of snowfall this December, compared to the previous record of 27.6 inches set back in 1918.

The prize for this snowy December though goes to Spokane, WA which had an amazing record of 61.5 inches. Eastern Washington is the drier part of the state.