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It’s May, but a weakening of the polar vortex will deliver a blast of cold to Wisconsin late this week, according to forecasters.
That means that if you’re thinking about planting anything outside, you should hold off until at least next week.
The National Weather Service predicts lows around 34 early Friday morning and 30 early Saturday morning, while 27 Storm Track meteorologist John Zeigler forecasts lows around 34 early Friday morning and 28 early Saturday morning.
And it could be worse: AccuWeather is forecasting snow to accompany the cold in the northeastern U.S., where it will seem more like early to mid-March. New York, for example, may only be near 50 over the weekend, instead of the average of 70.
"The problem is a number of people may have jumped at the recent warmth from this past weekend and started their planting of summer vegetables and annual flowers," Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's top long-range forecaster, said.
The first snow will come on Wednesday as a few snowflakes mix in over the highest terrain in the central Appalachians while much of the rest of the region has rain. A more general and significant snowfall event seems likely a couple of days later.
"The crazy pattern is being set into motion by a break-off lobe of the polar vortex or a displacement of the same," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
In Madison on Tuesday, there’s a 20% chance for rain before 8 p.m., with cloudy skies, a high near 53 and east winds at 5 to 10 miles per hour, the Weather Service said.
After an overnight low around 39, Wednesday should be partly sunny, with a high near 62 and light northwest winds increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
After an overnight low around 42, Thursday’s forecast features sunny skies, a high near 60 and northwest winds at 5 to 10 mph.
The Weather Service said chances for showers are 30% Saturday night, 40% Sunday and Sunday night, and 20% Monday.
Skies over Madison should be sunny Friday and Saturday, mostly cloudy Sunday, and mostly sunny Monday, with highs near 48, 55, 53 and 54, and lows Thursday night through Sunday night around 34, 30, 37 and 35.
27 Storm Track meteorologist John Zeigler forecasts a few showers, especially south and west of Madison, on Tuesday; an isolated flurry possible Friday; scattered rain possible Saturday night; and a few showers possible Sunday.
Ziegler said highs for Madison Tuesday through Monday should be near 53, 60, 59, 47, 54, 53 and 52, and overnight lows around 38, 41, 34, 28, 38 and 33.
Monday’s high in Madison was 55 at 2:59 p.m., 10 degrees below the normal high and 35 degrees below the record high of 90 for May 4, set in 1952.
Monday’s low in Madison was 35 at 4:32 a.m., 7 degrees below the normal low and 9 degrees above the record low of 26 for May 4, set in 1966.
No precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Monday, leaving Madison’s May precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) at a trace, 0.43 inches below normal. The meteorological spring (March through May) total stayed at 5.51 inches, 0.52 inches below normal. The 2020 total stayed at 8.19 inches, 0.52 inches below normal.
Madison’s record precipitation for May 4 is 0.99 inches in 1913.
With no snow on Monday, Madison’s May total stayed at zero, 0.1 inches below normal. The meteorological spring total stayed at 3 inches, 6.7 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 53.7 inches, 2.9 inches below normal.
Madison’s record snowfall for May 4 is a trace in 1967.
Photos: Remembering greatest single-day snowstorm in Madison history
State Journal front page Dec. 4, 1990
1990: Driver gets a push
1990: Mountains of snow
1990: Cars stuck
1990: Shoveling out car
1990: Snowblower at work
1990: Abandoned car
1990: Snowstorm aftermath
More stories from the greatest single-day snowstorm in Madison history
Read more stories from the Wisconsin State Journal archives about the blizzard that dropped a record 17.3 inches of snow on Madison in a single day on Dec. 3, 1990.
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