Worthington's wacky weather means a welcome winter for manyDespite mild spell, meteorologist warns folks to keep snow blowers handy
WORTHINGTON — Thursday’s 53-degree high temperature in Worthington shattered the previous record by 11 degrees, and caused locals to do some pretty wacky things around Worthington in early January — like drive a jet-ski on Lake Okabena or play a round of golf.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Thursday’s 53-degree high temperature in Worthington shattered the previous record by 11 degrees, and caused locals to do some pretty wacky things around Worthington in early January — like drive a jet-ski on Lake Okabena or play a round of golf. Some went so far as to cruise down the interstate with the top down on their convertible.
At the Worthington Sports Center, owner Jim Klinkenborg even sold a motorcycle — although the happy owner chose to haul it home on a trailer rather than drive it off the lot.
For the last two winters, Klinkenborg basked in snowmobile sales, but with little to no snow in the area, he’s seen more interest in four-wheelers and motorcycles lately.
“Sales were good early for snowmobiles,” he said. “Usually we have to get snow by Christmas to get the season going.”
While Klinkenborg hasn’t given up on a measurable crop of snow this winter season, neither has the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Philip Schumacher, based in the Sioux Falls, S.D., office, said we still have March to look forward to — and that month is typically the snowiest month for southwest Minnesota.
“All we need is to get the storm track a little farther south,” he said. “There’s still that chance that we could see snow in February and March — even in late January. I wouldn’t put the snow blowers away just yet.”
Schumacher said record highs were shattered across the region on Thursday — in many cases creating a new high that was 13 to 17 degrees higher than the old record. Worthington’s new record high for Jan. 5 topped the previous record of 42 degrees set back in 2002. Record highs and lows for Worthington only date back to 1970, whereas weather statistics in Sioux Falls have been recorded since the late 1800s, he explained.
While some people may be quick to say our wacky weather can be blamed on global warming, Schumacher said there’s a more basic explanation for our mild temperatures.
“One thing is there’s just no snow on the ground,” he said. When there is snow cover, the sunlight is reflected back into the atmosphere instead of actually warming up the landscape. Then, during a warming pattern, Schumacher said the energy goes into melting snow.
“The lack of snow cover is a big deal,” he added.
With the storm track currently located across southern Canada instead of sitting over Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri as is most typical, warm weather is actually able to get into the northern plains. That same storm track has pushed colder temperatures to parts of the southeast, like Florida, thanks to an upper level trough.
Schumacher said the weather in Florida should warm up in the next few days. Meanwhile, temperatures in southwest Minnesota will remain almost balmy.
“The next few days into early next week still look pretty mild,” said Schumacher, listing highs in the upper 40s to even 50s in some places. A cold blast of air is in the forecast for the middle part of the week, with highs only in the teens by Thursday.
“It’s hard to tell how long that will last,” Schumacher said.
Those who relish this winter warmth really aren’t concerned about when the next cold blast is going to hit — they’re too busy taking advantage of every day they can be outside.
A local golfing foursome that celebrates “holy day” every Thursday during the golfing season was able to gather for a round this Thursday at Willow Run in Sioux Falls. Mayor Alan Oberloh, along with Dale Ryen, Jerry Eykyn and Gary Hoffman arrived early to get a tee-time at the course managed by the same people who manage Prairie View Golf Links in Worthington.
“I started out with just a sweatshirt and a T-shirt and after about the fifth hole, I pulled the sleeves of my sweatshirt up,” said Oberloh, adding that the guys golfing behind their foursome were clad in T-shirts and shorts.
It was the first time Oberloh has ever golf — in the Midwest anyway — in early January. Apparently it was a popular activity on Thursday.
“The parking lot at Willow Run was jam-packed full from the start of the day until we left there at 5 o’clock,” he said. Clubhouse workers had to restock all of the soda and beer coolers and order in hot dogs and snack items to appease the crowd.
Oberloh would have liked to golf locally, but the manager said there was too much snow cover yet at Prairie View.
“It was probably five to eight degrees warmer over there,” Oberloh said of the Sioux Falls course.
Even some of those who make their money from snow storms and winter blizzards aren’t too terribly upset by the balmy weather.
Mike Fogelman, owner of Mike’s Mini-Excavating at Okabena, said instead of doing snow removal this winter, he’s still digging in septic system, water and sewer lines and doing excavation work — on purpose, not because of an emergency.
“For me it’s been pretty nice,” Fogelman said, adding that he’s only had a couple of small snow removal jobs all winter. “It’s been kind of a nice break after the last two winters, and now we’re on the down hill side of winter.”
Two years ago, Fogelman had to spend his Christmas in a local hotel because of heavy snow and blizzard conditions — he had to at least be in the city to do his contract work for snow removal. In the last two winters, he said there were weeks when he was called out three or four times because snow drifts had filled in parking lots and covered sidewalks.