Sunday, March 9, 2008

Could it be? Snow?

What is less surprising than bleach-blonde women driving German SUVs thru the drive-thru at Starbucks and a parking lot full of Toyota Priuses at the local Whole Foods market? That's right: snow in Madison.
I know, I hear you saying " It is March! Average high temps should be in the 50s and lows should be in the mid 30s!" Well, never mind that stuff. It is still below freezing, and we're getting more of the white stuff.
The end (or at least a respite) could be in sight. We are slated to get above freezing this week every day, starting tomorrow. Night time temps will still be freezing, however. We won't be headed for any records as far as length of ice cover goes unless the ice sticks around until June 3. The latest date for the ice to clear is May 6, and that was in 1856! If it takes until the end of April we will be at 127 days. The average date for the ice to break up over the past 50 years is March 31st. Since 1990, the ice has been clear no later than the 11th of April.
Even though we are only nine days into March, I'm not apprehensive in my prediction that the ice won't break until April 15th.
One more thing about ice: most of the side streets in town are horrible. Many are deeply rutted with ice "medians" and kerbs. Once you are in the rut, there is no getting out. most of this is from snow that fell 2 or more weeks ago.
Bring on Spring!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ice Bike 2008

The rain last weekend cleared much of the snow off of the ice on the lake, and made it tempting for me to head out onto the lake. Many days there are hordes of ice-fishermen in the middle of the lake, almost forming a small town. I'm not sure why, but they tend to clump together. Maybe these guys are just always taking them to the same place.
Part of the ride on the lake was on a tin layer of crusty snow which provided pretty good traction. The rest was on bare, slick, shiny ice that would have made a zamboni driver jealous.
It was a bit tricky at times where the ice was shiny, but not smooth, on the way back to the path I rode at a pace no quicker than a walk. but I did stay upright. I probably could have gone faster, but I'm old and afraid of falling...

So, how long does the ice usually last? Check it out here...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ugh. Winter is not over

Well, it should not have really come as a surprise, but winter is still here. Last night when I went to bed it was 48 degrees. When I woke up it was 28 degrees and there was about 1.5 inches of snow. The temps dropped all day, and it is now about 20. But it was a nice weekend and the temps should be in the 40s again this weekend!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Road Trip!

Okay, So after a tough week of colder weather and without somebody sweet nearby to inspire me to expound upon the ins and outs of Wisconsin weather and culture, I'm back with a new post. As I write it is 48 degrees!!! It is raining, but this "warm" rain is supposed to turn to freezing rain, then sleet and snow and we should get another 3-4 inches...
This weekend brought warmer weather and a road trip to "The Bays" (Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay). Sturgeon Bay is located in "Wisconsin's Scenic Door County", which is "the finger" of Wisconsin sticking into Lake Michigan.
I drove by Lambeau Field, and saw both Lombardi Ave and Holmgren Ave. Green Bay is pretty unique in that it is a town of 102,313, but it is home to an NFL team. I would bet that there is not other town/metro area with an NFL team that is less than one million people. I would also bet that there are fewer than 10 of those NFL players who live there year round. Green Bay is very much a working-class town with small homes, rusty cars and lots of factories making cheese, paper and steel. Now that I've been there, Green Bay is no place I need to go again.
We drove on Sautrday to Sturgeon Bay, located in Door County. Dor County is sort of like Cape Cod or Nantucket for the midwest. There were lots of cars from Illinois (FIBs). There are lots of vacation homes and resorts in Door County, and, tellingly, many wineries. I don't know if many grapes are grown on the finger, but people up there have figured out that the rich tourists will pay good money to go to a winery and taste some local wines. There were also lots of expensive stores selling "fashionable" clothes for older women at high prices.
It seems that Sturgeon bay is a popular spot with the legions of boaters who cruise Lake Michigan in the summers, but there was definitely no boating going on this time of year! There were lots of people out on the ice, but they were in fishing tents or on snowmobiles. It was pretty impressive to see that much water frozen thick enough that people were confident (foolhardy?) enough to take their power equipment onto the lake.
In news more close to home, ice on Lake Mendota was 30 inches on Saturday, reaching the upper limits of the boring tools most ice-fishers use to reach the lake.