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Forecast calls for record high temperatures in parts of Wisconsin

Milwaukee and Madison to see temperatures approaching 70 degrees

Strips of snow remain along a grassy lawn on a sunny day.
Green grass is revealed as snow melts Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in near a park in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Milwaukee and Madison are expected to “easily” break record high temperatures Tuesday, following a trend of an unusually warm winter.

The high temperature in Madison is expected to reach 68 degrees Tuesday — that’s 10 degrees higher than the previous record set in 1976.

Milwaukee is also expected to see a record high of 69 degrees, 4 degrees above its previous record for the date.

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J.J. Wood, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said unseasonably warm air and gusty winds are in the forecast for Tuesday. He said it’s a continuation of what is likely to be one of the warmest winters on record for Madison and Milwaukee.

“We’ve also seen just a long-term trend of warmer winters as we’ve gone through the decades,” Wood said.

Milwaukee has set 12 warm weather records since Dec. 1, with three record-high temperatures and nine record-high minimum temperatures. Madison has seen two record-high temperatures and one record-high minimum temperature.

The consequences are far-reaching. Wisconsin’s wildfire season is starting early this year. Ice cover on the Great Lakes has hit a low never before seen in mid-February. Wisconsin had its first recorded February tornados earlier this month.

Businesses see spikes as temperatures approach 70 degrees

Over the weekend around the state, at a time of year when outdoor recreation would typically mean ice fishing or skiing, people were playing golf or pulling out chairs for patio dining.

At Colectivo Coffee on Milwaukee’s lakefront, the outdoor seating was packed on Sunday. Manager Julia Cairns said there is a noticeable difference in crowds on warmer days.

“When we have these unusually nice days, we definitely get more of a crowd, especially when the sun is out,” Cairns said. “We get a lot of people that are just kind of hanging out for the view.”

Cairns said customers are ordering fewer hot chocolates and more iced drinks and smoothies. She is also making staffing changes. She had three more people than usual scheduled to work Tuesday evening because it’s busier when it’s nicer out.

“Sometimes we’re calling people in if we need a little bit of extra backup. It definitely impacts our staffing and just how our days run in general,” Cairns said.

There is an increased chance for above normal temperatures in the spring and summer months, too, the National Weather Service forecasts.

But the June-like heat won’t be here long this week. The forecast is calling for temperatures to fall sharply on Wednesday, with the possibility of snow.