Monday’s steady snow was enough for Janesville to declare a snow emergency.
It was enough for Edgerton and Evansville to cancel school.
But it was not enough to prevent an impromptu ice hockey game in Milton.
Nolan Dallman, Wyatt Smart, and Patrick and Tommy Sensenbrenner used their day off—already scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day—to lace up their skates. The Northside Intermediate students played on a flooded, grassy area in Central Park just north of the high school, using boots and other belongings for makeshift goals.
The boys had been there a couple of hours and played the previous night, too, thoroughly enjoying the winter weather. For them, the snow was overdue.
The overnight low pressure system that dropped about 5 inches of snow on Janesville as of Monday afternoon was the biggest snowfall this winter. But the city is lagging behind its seasonal to-date snow average, according to Gazette weather records.
Since 1947, Janesville has typically accumulated 16 inches of snow by Jan. 15. This year, that total was about 11 inches but growing as snow continued to fall into the early evening.
The dearth of snow so far is because most weather systems have bypassed Janesville to the north or south. The jet stream has carried snow to unusual places in the South instead, said J.J. Wood, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan.
Last month, a winter storm dumped snow on Atlanta and Houston and even a little in Brownsville, Texas, the state’s southernmost city. With little infrastructure to deal with a snowstorm, life in those Southern communities came to a grinding halt.
Monday in Janesville, crews plowed main roads throughout the storm to keep the city moving. Still, the city declared a snow emergency and ordered parked cars off the streets by 3 p.m., according to a news release.
Drivers who did not comply risked getting $50 tickets. Once the snow tapered off Monday night, plow drivers began clearing all side streets.
Despite the relative lack of precipitation, Janesville is not in the midst of a winter drought. But it is mired in a spell of below-average temperatures, according to Gazette weather data.
Since 1947, the average temperature between Dec. 1 and Jan. 15 has been 23.2 degrees. This winter, the average sits at 19.5 degrees, thanks to a fluctuation between light jacket weather and bone-chilling frigidity.
Wood said a colder-than-normal winter is not proof that global warming is a hoax, as some claim it to be every time temperatures fall into the single digits.
“Weather, especially in short time periods, you can get warm spells, cold spells,” he said. “Climate, we’re talking about years and decades and trends to really get a sense of what’s going on.”
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center projected the three-month stretch of January through March to be colder and wetter than normal.
Maybe Janesville will make up lost ground on low snow totals. But the immediate forecast here looks mostly dry the rest of the week, Wood said.
Those wanting to enjoy the snow-globe atmosphere needed to take advantage while they could.
Across the street from the hockey game, about a dozen kids gathered atop a hill to sled and snowboard.
Shelby Kelley brought her sons Collin and Evan Garcia to sled. She said she wanted to get them out of the house so they wouldn’t be cooped up playing video games.
Collin is in eighth grade and Evan is in fifth, but despite being an age where many kids want to avoid their parents, both enjoyed sledding with their mom.
On one trip down, all three went downhill together. Kelley recorded video of the moment, preserving family memories until the next snowy day.