University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Oldenhage, H. H.
Climatology of Wisconsin,   pp. [121]-128 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 125

while the range above the mean in England is very small. It is the tropical
element of our sum-
mers, then, that causes the grape, the corn, etc., to ripen, while England,
with a higher mean
temperature, is unable to mature them successfully. Ireland, where southern
plants may remain
out-doors, unfrosted, the whole winter, can not mature those fruits and grasses
which ripen in
Wisconsin. In England a depression of 2Q below the mean of 6oD will greatly
reduce the quan-
tity, or prevent the ripening of wheat altogether, 6o0 being essential to
a good crop. Wheat, re-
quiring a lower temperature than corn, is better adapted to the climate of
Wisconsin. This grain
may be grown as far north as Hudson bay.
     Autumn, including September, October and November, is of short duration
in Wisconsin.
North of the 42d' parallel, or the southern boundary line of the state, November
belongs properly
to the winter months, its mean temperature being about 32Q. The decrease
of heat from August to
September is generally from 81 to 90; i iI from September wo October, and
14Q from October to
November. The average temperature for these three months is about 450.  A
beautiful season,
commonly known as Indian summer, frequently occurs in the latter part of
October and in No-
vember.    This period is characterized by a mild temperature and a hazy,
calm atmosphere.
According to Loomis, this appears to be due to "an uncommonly tranquil
condition of the atmos-
phere, during which the air becomes filled with dust and smoke arising from
numerous fires, by
which its transparency is greatly impaired."  This phenomenon extends
as far north as Lake
Superior, but it is more conspicuous and protracted in Kansas and Missouri,
and is not observed
in the southern states.
     Destructive frosts generally occur in September, and sometimes in August.
of 36' to 40Q at sunrise is usually attended with frosts destructive to vegetation,
the position of
the thermometer being usually such as to represent less than the actual refrigeration
at the open
surface."' In 1875, during October, at Milwaukee, the mercury fell seven
times below the freez-
ing point, and twice below zero in November, the lowest being i4Q.
     The winters are generally long and severe, but occasionally mild and
almost without snow.
The mean winter temperature varies between 230 in the southeastern part of
the state, and 16' at
Ashland, in the northern. For this season the extremes are great.   The line
of 2o0 is of im-
portance, as it marks the average temperature which is fatal to the growth
of all the tender trees,
such as the pear and the peach. In the winter of 1875 and 1876, the mean
temperature for De-
cember, January and February, in the upper lake region, was about, 40 above
the average mean
for many years, while during the previous winter the average temperature
for January and Feb-
ruary-was.about i20 below the mean for many years, showing a great difference
between cold and
mild winters. In the same winter, 1875-'76, at Milwaukee, the thermometer
fell only six times
below zero, the lowest being I2Q, while during the preceding winter the mercury
sank thirty-six
times below zero, the lowest being 23'. In the northern and northwestern
part of the state the
temperature sometimes falls to the freezing point of mercury. During the
exceptionally cold
Winter of 1872-3, at La Crosse, the thermometer sank nearly fifty times below
zero; on Decem-
ber 24, it indicated 37c' below, and on January i8, 430 below zero, averaging
about I2' below
the usual mean for those months.  The moderating effect of Lake Michigan
can be seen
by observing how the lines indicating the mean winter temperature curve northward
as they
approach the lake. Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, and the Grand
region of Michigan, have the same average wintei temperature.  The same is
true regarding
Galena, Ill., Beloit, and Kewaunee. A similar influence is noticed in all
parts of the state. Dr.
Lapham concludes that this is not wholly due to the presence of Lake Michigan,
but that the
mountain range which extends from a little west-of Lake Superior to the coast
of Labrador (from
1,100 to 2,240 feet high) protects the lake region in no inconsiderable dtegree
from the excessive
cold of winter.

Go up to Top of Page