Weather and Local Lake Information


The information below provides some background information
for the
links in the menu to the left.


  • This Wunderground site provides real-time weather information for the Madison area.
  • Click on radar and choose to animate it.
    • By noting the timing of the animation loop, an estimate for the arrival of inclement weather can be made.
    • Allow plenty of time to get off the water and to shelter.
    • Keep in mind - lightning can easily travel 10 miles from a storm and has been known to travel up to 50 miles!
  • Check out the links to WEATHER in Madison and throughout the nation from NOAA, including Hazardous Weather Outlook.
  • Check out the SKYCAMS of the Madison area from the Dept of Atmospheric Science at UW-Madison.

Lake Mendota Buoy

  • The Lake Mendota buoy project is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison Limnology, Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and Environmental Engineering.
  • The buoy provides real-time data on wind direction and speed, air temperature, and water temperature, among other data.
    • Wind Direction and Speed
      • sets up wave heights and direction
      • must compensate when making way to maintain course
      • when not underway:
        • anchor properly so drift does not occur
        • when swimming off boat, either anchor or leave one person on board who knows how to pilot the boat
      • can change from relatively calm to high velocity within minutes in the Madison area
    • Air Temperature
      • cold air in spring and fall, in the evening, and even when cloudy can become uncomfortable, especially with wind; dress in layers
      • hot temperatures and high humidity can create life-threatening situations in summer
        • stay hydrated and be aware of how you feel; you can go downhill so fast as to not be able to get off the water
        • do not drink alcohol; even diet pop isn't good;  the best is to combine 1:1 water and a sports drink - you get twice the water and still get the electrolytes
        • if possible, make shade on your boat
    • Water Temperatures
      • cold water temperatures in spring and fall can create life-threatening situations; even summer water temperatures in the Upper Midwest can be problematic
      • within minutes, long before hypothermia sets in, mental and physical impairments occur that make you unable to help yourself
      • Sudden immersion in cold water triggers a gasping reflex.  If this reflex occurs with head under water, drowning is imminent.  ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET!!  Not only will it keep you warmer in the boat, it will keep you warmer in the water, and when the gasping reflex occurs, the PFD will likely get your head above water, dramatically decreasing the likelihood of drowning.  Besides, putting on a PFD in water is too challenging when you need to be concentrating on other things.

Dane County Lake Levels 

  • This Dane County website shows local lake level information.
  • If you go to the Lake Level search page, you can pick whichever lake you want.  Scroll down to find a link to making graphs of water level, including graphs that compare various lakes. 

Stream Gage

  • Stream gages are placed nationwide and maintained by the US Geological Survey.
  • Gages provide real-time data on stream height, discharge, and velocity.
  • The gage on the East Main Street bridge on the Yahara River can be used to determine if boats can get under the Willy Street bridge, depending on boat characteristics.  Be sure to pass under the center of the bridge to have the greatest clearance.