A winter with little snow so far means those who enjoy such winter activities as sledding, skiing and snowmobiling in the Eau Claire area have had precious little time to enjoy them.
However, despite relatively warm temperatures during the couple of weeks after Christmas, ice skaters have found plenty of ice time.
While temperatures that climbed above freezing during a post-Christmas warmup melted ice and made for uneven spots at rinks at Eau Claire skating locations, conditions have remained cold enough to result in mostly good-quality skating conditions, said Todd Chwala, manager of city of Eau Claire parks, forestry and cemeteries.
City workers have maintained ice rinks, Chwala said, and skating numbers are consistent this year with past winters in which colder temperatures and higher snowfall totals were the norm.
“Surprisingly, ice skating numbers have been hanging in there,” he said when asked about ice skating at city rinks this winter. “For the most part the skating conditions have been pretty good, and people are getting out there and skating.”
City resident Larry Lowe sometimes takes his 5-year-old son Graham to the rink at Boyd Park to skate. On a recent late afternoon the father-son duo were among a couple dozen skaters at the site.
“This is a nice place to skate, and the warming house is a plus,” Lowe said while he held his son’s hand as they slowly made their way along the ice’s surface.
Nearby, three boys used hockey sticks so pass a puck back and forth as they skated across one edge of the rink, avoiding others skating nearby. Chwala said he’s happy people are able to enjoy ice skating despite recent warmer weather, but a lack of snowfall this winter means sledding and skiing at city sites and elsewhere across the region have been a rare sight.
Typically cross-country skiers traverse trails at Carson Park, the Northwest Community Park, Fairfax Park and the city well fields this time of year. But “obviously, without the snow, those activities haven’t been happening,” Chwala said.
Sledding at such city locations as Pinehurst Park, Oakwood Hills park and others also hasn’t occurred since a nearly 4-inch snowfall on Dec. 1 and 2, he said.
“There was some sledding early this winter, but without snow that has died out too,” Chwala said.
According to the National Weather Service, Eau Claire has received 13 inches of snow so far this season, less than half of the 28.6-inch average for November through January.
The southern half of Wisconsin was expected to receive snow Friday night into this morning, but that snowstorm was not predicted to reach the Eau Claire area. However, cold temperatures are projected for the Chippewa Valley this weekend, with highs in the low-to-mid teens and a projected low of minus-2 degrees tonight and a low temp of about zero overnight Sunday.