Weekend Weather Wows: Milwaukee's 24-degree 'sick' temperature drop and Arizona gets 16 years of May rain

Welcome to our new weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – A massive blast of chilly air crashed into the shores of Lake Michigan this week, and, of course, the story was destined to go viral.

Welcome to our new weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

When a ‘cold front’ just doesn't do the weather justice

Earlier this week, Mother Nature zoomed right past "cold front" and upgraded the Great Lakes' bout with changing weather to a full-blown "pneumonia front".

The term has come to mean when cold winds blast in off Lake Michigan and rapidly drop temperatures along the Wisconsin and Illinois shores. The thought was it's such a rapid drop that you'll be caught underdressed for the oncoming chill, and like your parents used to incessantly warn when you dared go play outside without your jacket, "You'll catch pneumonia."

Tuesday's event likely wouldn't take your breath away even if you had been caught off guard in more summertime attire, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Milwaukee was basking in 81 summer-like degrees when the town was smacked with the front, leading to a "sick" drop in temperature. Just 20 minutes later, the temperature plummeted to 63 degrees and was down to 57 degrees by the time an hour had elapsed – a stunning 24-degree drop.


Sheboygan dropped 10 degrees in 12 minutes, while Racine dropped 15 degrees in 10 minutes. Good thing it's required in Wisconsin to have Cheesehead attire in all vehicles for emergency head warmth.

Chicago's temperature drop wasn't quite as stark – 15 degrees in an hour from 81 to 66 degrees. It was more like a "sniffles front."

Denver might have felt more ‘under the weather’

Last week's weekend wows touched on how unusually wet Denver was during a recent storm, but the pattern transitioned from soaking to stubborn.

It would go on to keep raining into this week, where Denver managed to rattle off an entire week's worth of days with measurable rain.

The seven-day rainy streak was tied for the second-longest since the Denver Airport's weather gauge has been at its current location (1994). But over the city's entire historical record, Denver managed to get rain 11 days in a row during the summer of 1965. Positively Seattle-like!


Summerlike heat wave takes the edge off a biting chill

Meanwhile, Seattle tried on some Midwestern summer for size, with a record-tying stretch of heat that saw four consecutive days with high temperatures that reached 80 degrees or warmer in May and just missed the record-breaking fifth day with a 78-degree high on Wednesday. Seattle peaked at 88 and 89 degrees.

If you want to find the real "wow" though, head over to the coast, where towns right along the 50-degree Pacific Ocean were somehow even hotter, reaching 90-92 degrees. That included the town of Forks – famous as the home of the "Twilight" series vampires, but also for being one of the wettest and foggiest towns in the Lower 48, averaging more than 100 inches of rain a year and more than 220 cloudy days.

Summertime average highs are in the 60s, but on certain days when the wind blows from the east, they get additional compressional heating from the nearby Olympic Mountains.

They get their own viral temperature changes, too. A simple wind shift back from the ocean takes a bite from the heat and Forks went from a high of 92 on Monday to 63 on Tuesday with nary a drop of rain. Achoo, indeed!

How about 16 years of May rain in a month?

One of the more sure bets in weather is that it isn't going to rain a lot in May in Safford, Arizona. Until this May. Thunderstorms have brought a total of 1.53 inches to that spot in the Desert Southwest this month so far.

It's more rain than the town has seen in their past 16 Mays combined.

Here's where to send your complaints

While we're on old adages this week, another one used to be: "Don't like the weather? Just wait 20 minutes."

But this is 2023. Now you can complain on Google.

Alaska climatologist Brian Brettschneider went and compiled the Google ratings of every National Weather Service office. Some are very small sample sizes, including some offices that haven't even snagged a single rating. You can see which areas have had enough notable weather to at least entice someone to go leave their opinion about it.

Looks like forecasters in central Indiana and Oklahoma have hit the mark.

Taking the ‘ice’ out of ice hockey

A funny thing happened on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in the NHL this season: All the places where you'd think hockey was a "hotbed" flamed out, and instead, we're left with four teams that hail from literal hotbeds.

Edmonton, Toronto and New Jersey bowed out first in the second round last weekend, then the north's last gasp ended Monday with my Seattle Kraken falling in Game 7. That left four teams advancing whose host cities' climate couldn't support an outdoor ice cube, much less a rink: Las Vegas, Dallas, Raleigh and Miami.


As far as I can tell, it's the warmest quartet of hockey hosts for the semifinals. 2020's pandemic version was close as it also featured Dallas and Las Vegas, along with Tampa, but the New York Islanders snuck in there and Long Island definitely qualifies as having a winter.


As this chart, which shows average annual snowfall and days when the temperature outside at least freezes, demonstrates, the current four host cities do not have much of a winter. (Raleigh is on the bubble, I suppose.) I compared it to the cities where the "Original 6" NHL franchises were established. You know, places with winter.

Next thing you know, the Canadian Arctic will take up beach volleyball.

Funny you should say that

They probably do play a fair bit of hockey in Canada's Nunavut province but in Arviat last weekend, it was time to hit the (Arctic) beach.

The town underwent a heat wave like no other, reaching 21.2 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) last Saturday, according to meteorologist Scott Duncan.  

This is a town that could almost be considered a weekend drive for Santa Claus and yet broke its May high-temperature record by 12 degrees Fahrenheit. 

"Even in a warming world, this magnitude of record-break is enormous," Duncan tweeted.

It was back to snowing there on Thursday.

Other Weather wow-y tidbits:

  • Denver might have been grumbling about 7 days with rain but it was likely better than what came after. Smoke from the Canadian wildfires drifting south into the city on Friday, leaving Denver with reportedly the 3rd-worst air quality in the world.
  • Wilmington, North Carolina tried the idea of getting a week of rain all in one morning. The city received 4.15 inches of rain Friday, which not only led to areas of flash flooding, but also netted their 5th wettest May day. Coincidentally, their wettest May day was set exactly five years ago.
  • It was quite chilly in the Northeast Thursday morning, with 19 new record lows set.

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