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Wisconsin's wild winter: El Niño's historic impact

Wisconsin's wild winter: El Niño's unprecedented impact
Snow Melting
Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 09, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Thursday night, an unprecedented event unfolded in Wisconsin as a tornado touched down, marking the first-ever reported tornado for the Badger state in February.

  • Thursday night: First-ever reported February tornado hits Wisconsin.
  • Winter marked by dramatic weather shifts: warm temperatures, and historic tornado.
  • Meteorologist Timm Uhlmann attributes warm, dry weather to strong El Niño.
  • El Niño pattern ranks as fifth strongest since 1950, and strongest since 2016.

From unseasonable warm temperatures to yesterday's historic tornado, this winter has been a whirlwind of weather drama. To shed light on these phenomena and understand the underlying causes,
Meteorologist, Timm Uhlmann from the National Weather Service in Green Bay said the El Niño pattern is the cause of the warm, dry weather in the region. He says this season's El Niño pattern has proven to be one of the strongest on record.

“It's a bit markable just in the like the strength of the El Nino. It's the fifth-strongest only record since about 1950 and the strongest since 2016. So that warmth is pretty unusual,” says Uhlmann.

Uhlmann says there were 40 consecutive days of above-normal temperatures from December through January, followed by a short-lived cold snap that brought record snowfall in mid-January.

Despite El Niño's punch, there are signs that it may be winding down.

The Climate Prediction Center forecasts a 79% chance of temperatures returning to near-normal levels this spring, signaling the potential end of the El Niño pattern.