Wisonsin Basks in Warm Winter Weather
BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) _ The ferry to Madeline Island still departs daily and Lake Superior is uncharacteristically ice-free. Wisconsin’s warm winter is even jeopardizing the annual ``Run on the Water.″
``It has been like spring,″ said Debi Smith of the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce.
It’s hard to get much farther north in Wisconsin than Bayfield, but only an inch or so of snow covered the city Thursday, Smith said.
In Green Bay, home of the famously frigid Lambeau Field, the outdoor ice skating rinks haven’t even opened.
``They have tried to make ice but the warm weather kind of hurt that,″ said Jessie Robertson of the city’s parks department.
Winter hardship is everywhere in Wisconsin, where record warm temperatures reached into the 40s and 50s early this week before colder, blustery weather arrived Thursday.
Some below-zero temperatures were expected, but the seven-day forecast held little hope for significant snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.
Beth Paulus of Bloomer put her 2000 Polaris snowmobile up for sale. ``There’s no snow,″ she said. ``Why pay for it when I can’t ride it?″
Helmuth Albrecht, owner of All Season Sports Center in Holcombe, which sells snowmobiles, lamented that mild has described too many recent winters.
``I got into the business in June of 1997. Counting this year, we’ve had one decent snow season,″ he said.
For the second year in a row, no snow forced the Green Bay Parks Department to cancel Saturday’s Frosty Frolics, a day of winter games and activities.
In Wausau, the parks department planned four Saturdays of free skiing lessons at Sylvan Hill but canceled the first two days because of no snow.
``It’s the winter that wasn’t,″ recreation superintendent Karyn Powers said. ``The long-range forecast is calling for light snow with no significant accumulation. We need about 12 inches.″
A year ago, all four weekends were scrubbed because of no snow for the first time in at least 12 years, she said.
``I may end up organizing train rides to Canada so people can see what snow looks like in a few years,″ Powers joked.
Don Berg, executive director of WinterFun Inc., which sponsors the U.S. National Snow Sculpturing Competition Jan. 29-Feb. 2 in Lake Geneva, refused to worry about the weather.
``If it is so warm that we can’t make snow, then we will carve ice,″ he said. ``We would bring in manufactured ice.″
Bayfield’s annual ``Run on the Water″ is a five-mile race Feb. 1 between the city and Madeline Island. The race, in its 17th year, will be run on a wooded trail near Bayfield if the lake doesn’t freeze over, said Carri Obst, the chamber’s executive director.
``The race usually attracts 200 runners. When it isn’t run on ice, it attracts half that amount,″ she said.
Mary Ross, a spokeswoman for Madeline Island Ferry Lines in Bayfield, said the ferry has been shut down as early as Dec. 10 in 1976 because of thick ice. During the warm winter of 1997-98, it never shut down.
The average date for when the ice forces the ferry to stop is Jan. 10, she said. A year ago, slushy conditions in March shut the ferry down for a week.
Unless it gets drastically colder soon, the odds of shutting the ferry down this winter look slim, she said.
On the Net:
National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/