January thaw will briefly warm the spirits of northeastern Wisconsinites

Duke Behnke

APPLETON — Collectively, let's all breathe a sigh of relief.

The deep freeze that caused our furnaces to work overtime during the past two weeks finally gave way to warmer temperatures Sunday, with the mercury reaching into the mid-20s.

That hasn't happened since before Christmas.

What's even better — at least to those with an aversion to Arctic air — is that the polar conditions will be replaced by a mild January thaw. The high temperatures during the next four days are forecast to reach 32 to 39 degrees, according to Weather Underground.

That's welcome news to Aaron Shaw of Appleton. He and his family were sledding Sunday morning at Reid Municipal Golf Course. While the temperature was approaching 20 degrees, brisk winds made it feel much colder.

Audrey Neumann takes her sled over a bump Sunday at Reid Municipal Golf Course in Appleton.

"We're in desperate need of some warmer weather for the kids and for the families that want to get outside," Shaw said.

The warmer temperatures by midweek might be accompanied by freezing rain and snow, but that didn't put a damper on Shaw's enthusiasm.

"I can't wait for 40 (degrees)," he said. "I can't even remember what 40 feels like."

The anticipated warmth is almost enough to make us forget about being trapped in Mother Nature's icebox for the Twelve Days of Christmas.


The temperature in Appleton dipped below zero every day from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6, according to Weather Underground.

In that same period, daily wind chills plunged as low as 35 degrees below zero. In those conditions, frostbite can occur within 30 minutes.

Tom Garrity of Appleton wasn't wearing a hat while shoveling snow from a sidewalk Sunday morning. He said he didn't mind the cold. 

"You learn to live with it," he said. "When the warmer weather comes, then it snows. That's the bad part about it. The cold keeps the snow away."

Winter is a great time to try new fitness activities like snowshoeing, skiing or fat-tire bike riding.

Megan Miller, a student at Appleton East High School, and Benjamin Hendel, a student at Appleton West, laced up their ice skates Sunday at Pierce Park. Neither had been outside much in the past two weeks.

"That's the only reason we came out because it warmed up a little bit today," Hendel said. "I had wanted to go sledding, but it was too cold. We will probably do that now that it's warmer."

Kris Van Roy of Harrison didn't like the bitter cold, but she's not looking forward to temperatures approaching 40 degrees, either.

"I don't like it to be all sloppy," she said. "I like it to be a pretty white, but not a deep freeze. That's probably a lot to ask."

The forecast calls for slight chances of snow Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and a 90 percent chance of snow Thursday, according to Weather Underground.

Below-normal temperatures are expected to return Friday and Saturday.