There's so much cool stuff on the Web that it would be easy to squander your life by spending it all online.
Bearing this in mind, and at the risk of getting you hooked on yet another highly addictive site, allow me to introduce you to my new hobby: Reading the daily climate summary for Madison. You'll find it presented by the National Weather Service's Milwaukee/Sullivan Weather Forecast Office.
Scroll about halfway down the page to the column labeled Daily Summaries, and click on Madison. This brings up the most recent climate summary for Mad City, but you can select from any of the 50 last summaries, which are posted four times per day. My favorite is the first one of the day, posted sometime between 1:30 and 2 a.m., summarizing the previous day's weather with a rich assortment of weather data -- including comparisons to climate normals for the period spanning 1971-2000 and climate record data recorded between 1871 and the present.
For example, yesterday's summary shows a maximum temperature of 56 degrees recorded at 2:18 p.m. -- well shy of the record 85 degrees set on April 25, 1990, five degrees below the normal high for the date but five degrees warmer than the same date last year.
Yesterday's low temperature, 43 degrees, was recorded at 11:59 p.m. This number, too, can be compared to normals and records for the date. But wait, there's more. Much more.
The summary of Madison's weather for April 25, 2007 goes on to note that yesterday's precipitation total of 0.39 inches compares to a record 1.25 inches for the date, set in 1951, as well as its departure from normal rainfall for the date, and last year's precipitation total for the date. Moreover, precipitation totals for the month to date, since March 1 and Jan. 1 are also noted and compared to normal totals and last year's totals for the same period (fyi, we're more than an inch ahead of normal for April so far, and more than two inches ahead of normal for the year).
Snowfall gets the same treatment, and while none of yesterday's precipitation fell as snow, the site reminds us that -- even though the current depth is zero -- we have seen 5.7 inches of snow so far this April, 9.3 inches since March 1 and 55.1 inches since last July 1.
Then it's on to Degree Days data, and Cooling numbers, and then Wind. Yesterday's east winds, according to the site, reached a maximum sustained speed of 22 miles per hour, gusting to a maximum of 26, and averaged 13 mph for the day.
Light rain and fog were observed. The highest relative humidity reached 93% at 1 a.m., falling to a low of 44% at 6 p.m. for an average of 69%.
The posted data conclude with sunrise and sunset for the current date (in this case, April 26) and tomorrow, when today's daily climate summary for Madison will be posted sometime between 1:30 and 2 a.m.