Bizarre winter weather a curse for some, a blessing for others

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Sunday, January 8, 2012
— It’s getting to the point where the snowmobilers are considering snow dances.

That’s similar to a rain dance, but it must be done in the moonlight in full snowmobiling gear. Or something like that.

Levi Olson of Johnstown has never done such a dance, but he might have to start soon, he said, chuckling.

Olson is the president of the Milton Snow Riders snowmobile club. It’s not the first time the trails have been closed in January, but this season’s lack of snow is especially glaring compared to the last few seasons, Olson said.

“We’ve been spoiled the last three or four years,” Olson said.

Some club members are planning trips to northern Wisconsin; Olson is not one of them. Trails are open in only four or five Wisconsin counties, and the 10-day forecast isn’t promising, he said.

“It’s such a small area now that’s even open, and the conditions aren’t great, that I don’t think it’s worth it to go up there,” he said.

The lack of snowmobilers is likely to be hard on merchants, particularly in northern Wisconsin, Olson said.

The snowmobiles will stay under tarps for the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service 10-day forecast. This weekend’s weather should continue until at least Wednesday. Skies will be sunny during the day, and temperatures will be in the 40s. The nights will be clear with temperatures in the 20s and 30s, according to National Weather Service data.

Temperatures should become more seasonal starting Thursday, according to the weather service forecast.

What is bad news for the snowmobilers, however, is good news for golfers in southern Wisconsin.

“Everybody who walks in the door has a smile on their face,” said Jake Downing, assistant manager at Riverside and Blackhawk golf courses in Janesville.

Riverside opened Thursday and will remain open tentatively until Wednesday, Downing said. Golfers played 148 rounds at Riverside on Friday, which is close to the average for early season golfing in early May or so, Downing said.

The ground is mostly frozen, although some spots were thawing over the weekend, Downing said. Still, Riverside is allowing golf carts on the course, he said.

“A couple of nice days in spring, and you won’t even know they were out there,” Downing said.

Things are typically quiet at Riverside in January, Downing said. In a normal year, the season slowly picks up in February when golfers buy merchandise for winter golf vacations, he said.

“It’s definitely some bonus revenue for us in a month that’s usually pretty dead,” Downing said. “The phone’s been ringing off the hook.”

At Evergreen Golf Club on Highway 12 north of Elkhorn, Russ Wells said the sales are making up in part for 2011’s chilly, wet spring.

“It means a lot to us, because of the late spring,” said Evergreen’s assistant manager.

Golfers played 150 rounds at Evergreen on Friday; that’s not quite the 250 they might do on a spring day, but it’s enough, Wells said.

One of those golfers Saturday morning was Jim Sands of Northbrook, Ill. It was a beautiful day for golf, although it helped having a covered cart and a heater, Sands said.

Sands plays at Evergreen in the spring and fall—and the winter when he can, he said. It’s unusual but not unheard of to play in January. Sands remembers playing in Wisconsin in January seven years ago when the winter was mild, he said.

“Anytime you can golf in January in Wisconsin,” Sands said, “that’s a good thing.”

Last updated: 7:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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