MADISON, Wis. - There is a popular belief that a mid-March snowstorm tends to strike during the weekend of the WIAA boys state basketball tournament held in Madison every spring. But is that true, or just an anecdote that people have told themselves so many times that is has lodged into our rote memory?
The truth is that since 1950, there have been quite a few snowless basketball tournaments in all areas around the state.
We looked at the data for six sites across the state, including Madison, and found that, over that 66-year span, each of them has had either 30 or 31 years with no snow at all during the three-day run of the tournament. This means that over half of the time, there is at least some snow falling during that period, which would lend some credence to the snowstorm myth. However, when you dig a little deeper, it falls apart.
Across the state, there have been more than 3 inches of snow over the three-day tournament period an average of only 7 years out of the 66 years in the sample (seven times in Madison). If you increase the threshold for a "snowstorm" to 6 inches, it drops to an average of 3 years out of those 66 years (twice in Madison).
So, although some snow may fall during the tournament, it's rare to see a large amount of snow that would hamper travel.
Thus, we must declare the myth of the annual boys basketball tournament snowstorm thoroughly debunked.
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