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Prepare for rare cold air system


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - You might have trouble getting Wisconsinites to believe anything about global warming this next week. It’s already been a cold winter, and a new system moving into the state Sunday is going to bring an arctic blast like we haven’t had in a while.

Meteorologist Tony Schumacher from WAOW television in Wausau says the cold we’ve experienced lately is nothing like what will arrive Sunday. “It’s going to be three solid days of just brutally cold weather. The actual low temperatures could get down around 30 below zero. A few of the colder spots might get down to 35 to 37 below. That’s the actual temperature.” Schumacher says those temperatures will mean forty to sixty below wind chill factors, and a real danger to people and animals.

It requires an unusual jet stream from over the north pole and considerable snow cover here to create these conditions. That’s why Schumacher says it’s rare to have a system like this affect our weather. “The last time we hit 30 below in Wausau for a temperature was early February, get this, of 1996, so it is kind of a rare thing for us.”

Schumacher says it will be cold starting Sunday, but it will not set any records. “The northwest part of Wisconsin has the coldest records for the state, there’s no question about it. There have been some 55 to 60 degree below actual air temperatures. Typically, though, if you’re going to get that cold with the air temperature, you won’t have much wind, but wind chill temperatures this time around could approach that level, so it’s going to be dangerous either way.”

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center says the Wisconsin record low temperature is 55 below zero on February 4th, 1996 in Couderay. The weather reporting station at the old Rice Lake airport recorded 60 below on January 9th, 1977. There were also unofficial reports of 62 below in nearby Chetek that day.

(Our interview with Meteorologist Tony Schumacher can be heard on our website, here.)