LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The cold has seemed never ending this winter. In La Crosse it's been the coldest winter since 2008-2009.
"It's one of those things that it's been cold, cold, cold and then we only get like maybe one day where it warms up, we get back to normal, thinking ‘oh that's nice,'" said Todd Rieck, Meteorologist with the La Crosse National Weather Service. "And then bam! Right back into more polar air."
Right now, this winter is tied for 14th coldest in La Crosse with the most below zero days since the late 1970s. But you might be surprised to hear it's still within the realm of normal.
"That's what makes climate," said Rieck. "You have cold, you have warm, define a normal… It's been colder that what we've had in recent years. But I wouldn't say it's exceptional by any means."
Part of the reason for this unrelenting cold lies in the jet stream.
"We have a ridge off the west coats and a trough over the east," said Rieck. "And what this allows is for the polar air to just keep coming down. And there's nothing to shunt it north. There's nothing to prevent it from continuing to move on down so we have this real cold air, day after day after day."
It's also been a very snowy winter. Since December 1st La Crosse has seen 28 days of measurable snow making it the 6th highest for frequent snowfalls. However, the snow itself has been lacking.
"We've had a lot of days with snow," said Rieck. "We haven't had a lot of snowfall. We've just had a lot of little increments. Like you said, an inch here, an inch there…We just haven't had any of those really big events where it accumulates fast."
The outlook for the rest of February looks dismal. We have equal chances to see above or below normal snowfall and temperatures are expected to remain cold. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
"There's some hope," said Rieck, "that maybe towards Valentine's Day we might even warm up back to normal."
That means with any luck highs will be back in the upper 20s. And for most of the Midwest, these average temperatures will feel like a heat wave.
For more information on the current records you can visit the National WeatherService page at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=arx&storyid=100009&source=0 .
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