By Scott Levine
So, this is spring?
With a high of 24 degrees Wednesday commemorating the first day of spring, it isn’t surprising that Jim Blaess is beginning to question Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasting credentials.
The famous groundhog predicted an early spring in February, but the Midwest, including Clinton, has seen anything but since early February. Blaess, official weather observer with the U.S. government, said March is starting to look like December.
“We’re at 29.7 degrees (Tuesday),” Blaess said. “In December, the average temperature was 32.7. We’re three degrees colder than in December. March is worse than December right now.”
Combine last year’s record-setting heat wave with this year’s frozen streak, and businesses that depend on spring coming sooner, rather than later, like The Oaks, are ready for a break.
The Oaks General Manager Roger Hannan is busy preparing for the upcoming golf season, but with snow still on the fairways and temperatures staying below freezing, there’s not much hope for a quick start to the season.
“It’s been too cold to do anything right now,” Hannan said. “Unfortunately, there’s no target date for when we can open.”
Golf Course Superintendent Curt Rosebeck has started some clean-up work, but he’s normally further ahead of schedule by this time.
Instead, Rosebeck has focused much of his time setting up new electronic carts to be offered to golfers this year.
The clubhouse will open March 31 for Easter Sunday, and Hannan would like the course to be open by that time, too, if the weather would cooperate.
Golfers didn’t have that trouble last year.
The course opened March 6 last year thanks to never-before-seen March temperatures.
Last March, the area finished 15.7 degrees above normal temperatures.
Going into Tuesday, the area is 8.9 degrees below normal for March, equaling a 24.6 degree difference from last year.
From March 14 to March 21 in 2012, the area set six records and tied one.
Wednesday registered more than a 50-degree difference in temperature from year-to-year.
“We couldn’t have had it any worse after having it so nice,” Blaess said. “It’s kind of a surprise. Having a normal March isn’t like this.”
So far this year, the highest temperature in March has been 42 degrees.
The lowest high temperature in March since record-keeping began is 53 degrees in 1965 and 1906.
Last March, 25 of 31 days registered temperatures of higher than 42 degrees.
And the area isn’t going to experience 50-degree temperatures this week, according to forecasters.
Highs are expected to be in the mid to high 30s for the rest of the week.
“Compared to last year, it’s like night and day,” Blaess said.
“We’ve had snow in March before, cold weather in March before, but this is pretty extreme for differences.”