How nasty is winter in Madison WI? Just how cold does it get? What’s wind chill? We are going to tell you everything you need to know about winter in Madison WI.
The average highs in January, the coldest month during winter in Madison WI, is 27 degrees, the average low is 8 degrees. The record low in January was -36 degrees on January 30, 1951 and the record high in January was 62 degrees on January 26, 1944.
Wind chill is no joke during winter in Madison WI. What is wind chill? If you aren’t familiar with this term, wind chill is essentially the “feels like” temperature when you incorporate the wind. For example if it’s 0 degrees in January (not unusual during winter in Madison WI) and the wind is blowing at 20 miles an hour, it actually feels like it’s -22 degrees making the wind chill -22 degrees. Brrr! The wind is definitely a factor in the feel of the temperature and makes the winter in Madison WI much more challenging. Without the wind, winter in Madison WI would be much easier!
What factors have to be in play for things to shut down during the winter in Madison WI? How much snow do we have to get and what does the wind chill have to be? It’s very rare that the city shuts down, we are pretty well equipped to handle the cold and snow. When you’ll see shut down or a delay, especially for schools, it has usually snowed 8 or more inches over night and the road crews are working hard to get the roads cleared out. In regards to wind chill and closings during winter in Madison WI, it typically has to get down into the negative double digits for schools to close. Each school district is a little different depending on the student body but for the most part this is a pretty accurate guideline for closings during the winter in Madison WI.
On thing to remember is that the calendar doesn’t mean much during winter in Madison WI. You could get a 60 degree day in February, it’s not highly likely but it happens. At the same time, it’s not unusual to get an accumulating snowfall in March and into April. We don’t start packing away our snow gear in Madison until May. Just because we get a couple of gorgeous 60 or 70 degree days in March or April, don’t get excited and put your snow gear away quite yet.
Shoveling is serious business during winter in Madison WI. One of the things you don’t want to do is wait too long to shovel the snow off your sidewalk. If it gets walked on and packed down, the snow is a lot more difficult to remove and can even turn to packed ice, often sticking around for the remainder of the winter in Madison WI. If we’re being honest, spend the money and invest in a snow blower. The main reason we recommend a snow blower is due to our love/hate relationship with the snow plows. Obviously we love the plows because they keep the streets clear and help you drive safely in the winter. However, they will inevitably plow you in leaving you with a snowbank at the end of your driveway. This is when you will really need the snow blower, especially on days when the snow is really heavy. Also, you’ll want to remember to keep your cars off the street as much as possible both because they can get plowed in with heavy snow and because it will save you from having to spend your mornings scraping the snow and ice off your car. Take the time and clear out the garage so you can park inside as much as possible during the winter in Madison WI.
Driving in the snow during the winter in Madison WI is a learned skill, a skill often forgotten during the first snowfall. Some tips we have for driving in the winter in Madison WI: allow for a longer commute time, plan ahead so you’re able to drive slow and take your time, be aware that each person has a different comfort level driving in the snow so you’ll need to allow extra time to accommodate for the people around you. Also, snow tires are a thing, a good thing! People frequently invest in snow tires to make driving in the winter in Madison WI easier, especially if you have a 2 wheel drive car. It is wise to have either an all wheel drive car or snow tires to be put on for the winter.
Another element you’ll want to consider about winter in Madison WI is the ice. In many ways, worse than the snow, the freezing rain and ice we often get is far more dangerous than the snow. The snow has some grip but if the rain is freezing when it hits the ground everything becomes incredibly slick. Fortunately, although it does happen every year, the freezing rain and ice are less common than snow.
To be prepared for driving in winter in Madison WI, you’ll want to be sure to have a “survival kit” in the trunk of your car. Far less scary than it sounds, a winter survival kit includes things like jumper cables, a shovel, a flashlight, a first aid kit, extra blankets and clothes. While infrequently used, these items are just a precaution in case you get stranded and need to wait for help to arrive. Besides a survival kit, you’ll want to be sure to always have an ice scraper and a snow duster in your car during winter in Madison WI. Just in case you’re at work and you get a few inches of snow, you’ll need that scraper and brush before heading out onto the roads.
Yet another thing to be aware of during winter in Madison WI, are the parking regulations. Many communities have what’s called alternate side parking which simply means you can only park on certain sides of the street depending on the week. The reason for alternate side parking during the winter in Madison WI is to allow for the snow plows to more easily clear the snow from the street. Just a warning, Madison takes this seriously and you will receive a ticket if you are parked on the incorrect side of the street during the winter. As a fun bonus, you will also be plowed in if you’re parked on the wrong side so be sure to do a little research so you know which side to park on during the winter in Madison WI.
Now let’s talk about fashion for winter in Madison WI. Fashion is one of Krystle’s favorite topics but in winter, all you’ll care about is being warm! So, embrace the muffin man look! First of all, you’ll want to invest in a warm coat. You’ll need gloves, scarves, hats, and very important, good boots. You want your feet to stay dry and warm during winter in Madison WI. I would recommend everyone have a pair of boots that are warm and dry but maybe a little fashionable and then a heavy duty pair of snow boots for trudging in the snow.
While winter in Madison WI can definitely be challenging, it can also be a particularly fun season full amazing things to do. Some of those things are even outdoors! Take advantage of the great snowshoeing and cross country ski trails or try out downhill skiing at one of the area ski hills like Tyrol Basin, Cascade Mountain, or Devil’s Head.
If you’re an outdoorsman and like to fish, you’ll want to give ice fishing a go. You can fish all year round in Madison! Sledding is very popular with families and there are sledding hills all over during the winter in Madison WI. Another popular activity is snowmobiling. Many local farmers give access to their land and many trails allow for snowmobiling in the winter months. The snowfall can be so beautiful! If you’ve never experienced all four seasons before, it really is stunning and can take your breath away with it’s beauty. There’s nothing quite like that cold, crisp air of winter in Madison WI so get out there and enjoy it!
We said we’d give it to you straight and I don’t think we sugar coated what winter in Madison WI is like! We hope this information is helpful. Please reach out if you have any questions about moving to or living in Madison WI.