Wisconsin, United States

About Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin is one of the fifty U.S. states. Located in the north-central United States, Wisconsin is considered part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Upper Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee. Wisconsin is bordered by the Montreal River; Lake Superior and Michigan to the north; by Lake Michigan to the east; by Illinois to the south; and by Iowa and Minnesota to the west. With its location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is home to a wide variety of geographical features. The state is divided into five distinct regions. In the north, the Lake Superior Lowland occupies a belt of land along Lake Superior. Over 68% of Wisconsin residents live in urban areas, with the Greater Milwaukee area home to roughly one-third of the state's population. Milwaukee is at the northern edge of an urban area bordering Lake Michigan that stretches southward into greater Chicago and northwestern Indiana. Madison's dual identity as state capital and college town gives it a cultural richness unusual in a city its size.

Wisconsin Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is also a major industry in Wisconsin, the state's third largest, according to the Department of Tourism. This is attributed to the many resorts in northern Wisconsin and the family attractions in the Wisconsin Dells area, which attract nearly 3 million visitors per year. Tourist destinations such as the House on the Rock near Spring Green and Circus World Museum in Baraboo also draw thousands of visitors annually, and festivals such as Summerfest and the EAA Oshkosh Airshow draw international attention, along with hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The distinctive Door Peninsula, which extends off the eastern coast of the state, contains one of the state's tourist destinations, Door County. Door County is a popular destination for boaters because of the large number of natural harbors, bays and ports on the Green Bay and Lake Michigan side of the peninsula that forms the county. The area draws hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly to its quaint villages, seasonal cherry picking, and fish boils.

Wisconsin Climate

The Wisconsin climate is typically continental with some modification by Lakes Michigan and Superior. The cold, snowy winters favor a variety of winter sports, and the warm summers appeal to thousands of vacationers each year. About two-thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the growing season (freeze-free period). It is normally adequate for vegetation, although drought is occasionally reported. The climate is most favorable for dairy farming; the primary crops are corn, small grains, hay, and vegetables. The rapid succession of storms moving from west to east and southwest to northeast account for the stimulating climate.

The average annual temperature varies from 39 F in the north to about 50 F in the south. During more than one-half of the winters, temperatures fall to minus 40 F or lower, and almost every winter temperatures of minus 30 or colder are reported from northern stations. Summer temperatures above 90 average 2 to 4 days in northern counties and about 14 days in southern districts. During marked cool outbreaks in summer months, the central lowlands occasionally report freezing temperatures.

The long-term mean annual precipitation ranges from 30 to 34 inches over most of the Western Uplands and Northern Highlands, then diminishes to about 28 inches along most of the Wisconsin Central Plain and Lake Superior Coastal area. The higher average annual precipitation coincides generally with the highest elevations, particularly the windward slopes of the Western Uplands and Northern Highlands. Thunderstorms average about 30 per year in northern Wisconsin to about 40 per year in southern counties, and occur mostly in the summer. Occasional hail, wind, and lightning damage are also reported. The average seasonal snowfall varies from about 30 inches at Beloit to well over 100 inches in northern Iron County along the steep western slope of the Gogebic Range. The heavy snowfall along the Gogebic Range is a result of the prevailing cold northerly winter winds blowing across the relatively warm water of Lake Superior.