The email arrived Sunday, and it felt like we’d really turned the corner after a record-setting winter.
“Spring is here and Wild Ridge is OPEN for golf!!!!!!” it exclaimed.
On Tuesday a follow-up email hit my inbox, declaring that the Wednesday night league I play in at the golf course would start this week.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, it snowed. So much for teeing off a new golf season.
The only things teed off last week were Eau Claire residents forced once again to rev up our snowblowers and pull out our shovels to clear more snow.
Our only consolation was the realization that we all survived a record-setting year for snowfall.
Through Friday afternoon, the latest storm dropped 11.4 inches of snow on Eau Claire, pushing the total well over the previous full-season record of 89.3 inches, set in 1996-97.
Eau Claire now has received 98.8 inches of snow in the 2018-19 winter — the most since record-keeping began in 1893, said Caleb Grunzke, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minn. That’s nearly 3 inches taller than a traditional 8-foot ceiling.
“Eau Claire’s total snowfall is 9.5 inches above the previous record, so you shattered it,” Grunzke said.
As I’m sure everyone remembers, more than half of that astonishing total arrived in February when Eau Claire set its all-time monthly snowfall record by getting 53.7 inches of snow.
And the seemingly endless winter may not be over yet.
“We’re not out of the woods yet for not getting any more snow, so you may still break 100 inches,” Grunzke said Friday, adding, “There are a few interesting weather systems going on next week that might be worth watching.”
In other words, we’re probably going to get some precipitation this week, and if it gets cold enough, that means — you guessed it — more snow.
Eau Claire has received more than 3 inches of snow after April 12 about 20 times in recorded history, so Grunzke’s telling us there’s a real chance we break the century mark. Last year, he reminded me, the city received 15.8 inches of snow on April 15.
By the way, Grunzke revealed that last week’s storm was just the seventh time in the past 126 years that Eau Claire got at least 10 inches of snow during a two-day period in April. (It could have been worse, as Wallace, S.D., reported 30.8 inches of snow last week.)
To make you feel even “luckier,” Eau Claire’s official full-season snowfall total is the second highest in the entire region covered by the National Weather Service’s Chanhassen office. That region extends roughly from Brainerd in northern Minnesota to the Iowa border and from the South Dakota border to just east of Eau Claire.
The No. 1 total, 103.6 inches, was reported by a certified weather observer 3 miles southwest of Eau Claire, so yes, we Chippewa Valley residents were justified in complaining. Minneapolis-St. Paul, for instance, had received just 76.2 inches this season as of Friday. It was a top 10 winter for our friends in the Twin Cities, although it seems like child’s play compared with what we dealt with.
End is in sight
On the bright side, with highs expected in the 50s early this week, Grunzke predicted our latest blanket of white should be gone by mid-week.
Which brings me back to that golf league.
Wild Ridge club pro Jim Buyze said Friday that a number of golfers hit the links Sunday through Tuesday before the weather turned.
Despite the snow cover, he remains optimistic about golf league starting on Wednesday.
“Hopefully,” Buyze said, “it’s a short four- or five-day setback and we’ll laugh about it on the Fourth of July.”