The weather forecast for Wisconsin over the next two weeks calls for highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid-50s. Which begs the question: Is the nice weather here to stay?
“I mean this is still Wisconsin, so there are no promises in that area,” said Marcia Cronce, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, but she added “we’re seeing kind of a general warming trend.”
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center looks at extended models and global patterns, and its three-month outlook has Wisconsin listed as a 33% to 40% probability of above-average temperatures.
The three- to four-week outlook has Wisconsin at above 50% probability of above-average temperatures. The eight- to 14-day outlook also has Wisconsin at 50% probability of above-average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.
Milwaukee’s “normal” late-May temperatures range from lows in the high 40s to highs just reaching the 70s. In June, those lows move into the 50s and 60s.
“(In June) a major cold snap is not absolutely impossible. It’s rare,” Cronce said.
Temperatures dropped to 33 degrees on Milwaukee’s coldest June day on record, in 1945. The last time June temperatures dipped below the 40s was 1977, according to the weather service.
Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist at Accuweather, was quick to caution Wisconsinites before they fill up swimming pools. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to be in a persistent hot pattern, we don’t see that happening, at least through the rest of this month,” he said.
But Smerbeck said he thinks gardeners can start work without worry. “I think it’s fairly safe right now that you’re not going to get a killing freeze.”
Cronce said the likelihood of frost is very low, and if frost were to appear in the forecast the National Weather Service would issue an advisory so gardeners could take precaution with vegetation.
Now that the pandemic is beginning to loosen its grip, people will be eager to enjoy outside activities such as cookouts and festivals. The forecast calls for typical spring weather, if not above-average temperatures, for Wisconsin.
Smerbeck said the summer forecast calls for temperatures to be above average in most of Wisconsin, particularly the eastern portion, but added we are a ways away from the blistering heat.
Wisconsin is entering peak severe weather season, and the probability for tornadoes rises in June. But though there will be storms in the next two weeks, the forecast shows “nothing too extreme,” Smerbeck said.
Getting ready to work the soil
“It’s obvious to me that everyone is really eager again this year to touch the soil, to have the sun upon us,” said Venice Williams, the executive director of Alice’s Garden, a community and urban farm in Milwaukee. “Getting out into the garden is not just about cultivating what we grow — it’s also just what it means to re-emerge, and to embrace the natural world.”
Williams said gardeners should be taking advantage of the nice weather by opening up the soil. It has been packed down throughout the cold months and needs to be agitated to be more porous.
But not everything is ready to go in the ground.
“No matter what, do not put your tomatoes and your peppers in the ground until after Memorial Day, no matter the weather forecast,” Williams said. These plants hold a lot of moisture and even a 40-degree day could mean disaster. And a surprise frost advisory isn’t out of the question.
To combat severe weather and storms, Williams recommends using a Styrofoam cup over the plant in the first couple weeks to protect it. An environmentalist, she asks that people reuse the cup and treat it as a tool, not waste.
Williams advised taking this time to really browse the different options for planting annuals and vegetables and create a garden plan that will combat pest control from the jump.
Williams has more gardening advice at alicesgardenmke.com.