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Observations by Gary Fewless for Green Bay WI (Lat.N 44.51° Long. W 88.02° ), except as noted. For flowers lacking conspicuous petals or sepals I define "anthesis" as release of pollen by mature anthers.

December 2011 Mouse-over the photo for the identity of the subject
Green Bay

Dec 31

The month of December 2011 was decidedly warm in Green Bay, as the daily mean temperature was about 7.5 degrees F higher than the "normal" temperature. It was also a virtually snow-free month as we received a total of only 2.9 inches of snow and only about 4-5 days that had significant snow on the ground, from Dec 22-26. That is much different than last year when we received 22.2 inches of snow in Dec. with a storm delivering 11 inches of snow Dec 11 and 12 and snow-covered ground for 23 of the 31 days.

The year of 2011 was notable on several accounts. The winter of 2010/2011 was the third snowiest of recorded history for Green Bay, punctuated by big storms in March with a total of 22.3 inches of snow for the month, including a two day storm on March 22 and 23 that delivered 17.8 inches of snow, our largest snowstorm in the last 120 years (see entry for March 25, 2011). Another storm delivered 10.1 inches of snow on April 19/20. The winter total was 92.6 inches, compared to an average of 55.2 inches. It was still possible to find a lttle snow in Green Bay on April 24.

About the first three weeks of May ran generally cold and with frequent though mostly small rains. Phenology items from April through May ran about 3 weeks later than they did in the previous year in northeastern Wisconsin.

Although I was gone for much of the month, by all accounts it was very hot and the data indicates it was about the 3rd or 4th hottest July in Green bay history.

Dec 23

Green Bay received another 1.8 inches of snow today.

The East River froze over last night at my long term monitoring site at Beaupre Street. The average date for start of lasting freeze is Dec 8 (21 years data), but it has frozen as early as Nov 12 and as late as January 12 within the 21 years of data since 1991.

Dec 22
Light snow began about 1 a.m. this morning, and was done by about 4 a.m. The total was only about 0.8 inches, but the effect was dramatic. snow snow
There was a Bald Eagle in a big cottonwood tree near the East River in Allouez this morning as I left for work. He was busy ignoring a Crow that was pestering him. eagle eagle
Dec 21

The winter solstice occurs today at about 11:30 p.m. That is the time at which the northern hemisphere is tilted farthest away from the sun, and therefore it is the time at which the daylength here is shortest. Actually, to the nearest second, Dec. 21 and 22 will both be the same length this year, 8 hours 49 minutes and 31 seconds. So the good news is that we have reached the shortest day of the year. The bad news is that the days will begin to get longer very slowly at first--only about 4 seconds longer on the 23rd, 9 seconds on the 24th, etc. The lengthing pace will increase until the spring equinox in March, centered about March 21st when the daylength will increase by 3 minutes and 6 seconds each day. Days will continue to get longer until about June 21, but the rate at which they lengthen will decrease from the spring equinox until the summer solstice, when once again the amount of change each day will be very small in the days before and after.

Green Bay reached a high temperature of 40° F today, about 13 degrees warmer than the average for this date.

Dec 20
Green Bay is still snow-free and temperatures are mild as the winter solstice approaches. There are still large numbers of ducks and Canada Geese in the Green Bay area, as well as hundreds of Tundra Swans farther north along Green Bay's west shore. There have also been several reports of Snowy Owls in northeastern Wisconsin.
ducks gull
ducks at mouth of Fox River, Green Bay
young gull
Dec 19
After the new antlers have matured in late summer, whitetail bucks will rub their new antlers on trees to remove the "velvet" that supplied nourishment to grow the antlers. If the trees are small diameter, the rubbing will remove the bark (left photo in the following image). The tree's wound may heal with minimum effect or in some cases disease may be introduced and over time the tree will die (middle image). The dead wood is more susceptible to breaking and sometimes the buck rub ultimately leads to a broken tree over the course of a few years (right photo). All three stages were present within a few feet of one another in a clone of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in UW-Green Bay's Cofrin Arboretum. buck rub
Dec 18
Bird observations at the Oconto breakwater along Green Bay, Tom Erdman
snowy owl
swans, geese
Harlequin
snow buntings
Snowy Owl
Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards
Harlequin female
Snow Buntings

Wooly bear caterpillar walking across the trail near the railroad bridgeAllouez, Brown County, WI (Mike Draney).

Dec 17
Here's another plant that can remain green over winter, watercress (Nasturtium officinale). It often grows in springs where the water does not freeze, as here on Dec. 17, 2011 in Manitowoc County. watercress
Dec 16
Here's another winter survivor, a cluster fly. They tend to be lumped in with the common "house flies" by non-entomologists, but they are clearly distinct and unlike the common house flies they don't cause health problems for people. They tend to appear in substantial numbers seeking shelter in houses when the weather is turning cold in the fall. This one was brought to me by Dr. Mike Draney who found it at a local window. cluster fly
Dec 15 Last year on this date Green Bay reached a low temperature of -13° F, but this year our low was +28° F.
Dec 13
Though we have had a little snow so far (0.2 inches) in Green Bay, there is no snow on the ground and that makes it easy to see some of the plants that stay green over the winter. In addition to the coniferous trees and a few angiosperm shrubs in our area, a number of herbaceous plants also stay green over the winter. Among them are some ferns, including intermediate wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia), shown here on this date from a local Brown County Park. The leaves lay over and stay green under the snow all winter. After new leaves emerge next summer the old leaves will begin to fade and will eventually dry up. I'll visit a few other winter-green plants over the coming days of winter. intermediate wood fern
Dec 11
A much warmer day with high of 43° F and a low of 23. Still no snow in Green Bay area. temperature
Dec 10 Green Bay's low temperature reached 9° F, lowest of the winter to date. Local ponds and southern Green Bay thoroughly frozen, though much of the fox River remains open. Laona, about 80 miles NNW, reports a low of -3° F and about 5 inches of snow on the ground.
Dec 09

Low temperature of 11° F in Green Bay. Eagle river is reporting -2.

Except for an area at the mouth of the Fox River, and the shipping channel, much of extreme southern Green Bay is ice-covered.

low temperaures Green Bay ice
Dec 08 Low temperature of 18° F is the lowest of the winter to date.
Dec 07 The East River froze over last night at my long term monitoring site at Beaupre Street. There have been patches of thin ice floating on the river before now and a segment of the river just upstream had frozen the night before, but not at the standard site. [the ice opened partially due to warm weather on the 20-22nd, and finally froze for the winter on Dec 23--see that date, gf].
Dec 06
Green Bay's low temperature of 19° F is the lowest of the winter to date. Laona reports 0° F, Rhinelander -1, Florence -2.
Ice forming again along Green Bay shore.
ice along shore
Dec 05
Southern Green Bay is ice-free again after the warmer temperatures and the rain of the last 2 days. gb shore
Dec 03

Green Bay had a high temperature of 43° F and 0.68 inches of rain today, plus a trace of snow. Areas to the north and west received snow: Florence 6.2 inches, Eagle River 5 inches, Rhinelander 4. 5 inches, Laona 4.2 inches. While Green Bay's low temperature fell only to 31° F, the snowy area to the north was much colder: Rhinelander -1° F, Eagle River 0°, Laona 1°, Florence 3°.

Dec 02
The morning low temperature was 20° F in Green Bay (lowest so far this winter) and low temperatures of 2° in Laona and -1° in Rhinelander were reported ± 100 miles to our north. Ice is forming again along the Green Bay shore, as here off UW-Green Bay's Cofrin Arboretum, looking toward Point Au Sauble. Green Bay green bay ice
Dec 01

A little rain and a trace of snow in Green Bay, but farther north about 2-3 inches of snow fell today.

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Last updated on December 1, 2014