Does this look like winter to you?

Many residents visited area parks this week to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. Tyler Cutsforth, right, prepares to release a driver disc toward a basket at Brandt/Quirk Park's Rock River disc golf course while Joe Fiedler, left, looks on late Thursday afternoon.

Although the calendar still says winter, don’t tell that to the flowers, bugs and running enthusiasts.

Temperatures this week have skyrocketed and broken records throughout the area, state and country.

Temperatures have been creeping upward all week, with highs reported in Watertown at 65 on Tuesday, 76 on Wednesday and 78 on Thursday. Today’s mercury is again predicted to reach into the 70s, according to meteorologist Morgan Brooks.

“We really don’t have any cold air in the forecast,” the meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Sullivan said this morning. Temperatures are forecast to be in the 60’s and 70’s through Thursday, she said. Tuesday it is suppose to be cooler, in the 60’s, if one would call that cooler.

The warming trend has been around since March 10 and is forecast out through Thursday. “It looks like it is going to stick around,” Brooks said.

“It is the earliest it has been this warm,” Brooks said. “Yesterday Madison broke 80 degrees. It is the earliest on record that Madison broke the 80 degree mark,” she said. The previous record for 80 degrees was March 29. “So we beat it by two weeks,” she pointed out. “And Madison could reach 80 degrees again today.”

This warm stretch is more unusual than the mild winter the state had, Brooks said. “It is making a very impressive warm start to the year.”

Milwaukee has recorded its warmest stretch of weather from Jan. 1 to March 15, while Madison has reported its second warmest weather stretch. The average temperature for the first 3 1/2 months of 2012 has been 38.5 degrees, Brooks said.

On Thursday, Milwaukee cooled off drastically when winds switched and came across Lake Michigan. Temperatures in that part of the state will remain cooler, compared to inland.

The warm temperatures are being caused by a persistent warm pattern that is slow to move, Brooks said. The southern winds are bringing up warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and the upper level jet stream with cold air is far to the north. “This is really unusual,” the meteorologist said.

Flowers are blooming earlier than normal and trees are starting to bud out. Even the insects are appearing in open windows and along sidewalks used by walkers, joggers and runners.

The warm weather has people flocking to the parks, according to Parks and Recreation Director Tom Checkai.

“We have had a tremendous amount of people in the parks already, but we are not quite ready for them,” Checkai said.

The department is hurrying to try and get playground equipment up and assembled, along with opening up the bathrooms at the parks.

Checkai said they are a little weary of opening all of the bathrooms because if the weather turns cold again it could burst some of the pipes. However, they are hoping to have the bathrooms at Riverside and Brandt/Quirk parks open by this weekend.

The department does not normally begin working on the parks until mid-April, Checkai said.

With temperatures expected to be warm again over the weekend Checkai said he believes the parks will be full of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

The mild spring has been great news for area golf courses. Windwood of Watertown opened Saturday and the Watertown Country Club opened it’s courses to the public on Tuesday.

Andrew Gunst, assistant pro with Windwood, said they were busy on Wednesday and are expecting a big turnout over the weekend.

Shaun Finley, general manager with the country club, said this is the earliest he can remember the course being open.

“I talked to a few members who have been with us for a long time and they couldn’t remember us ever being open this early in the season,” Finley said.

The country club is expecting a big turnout for the weekend as well, especially since they are going to allow golf carts out on the course starting today.

Finley said they have already had to mow the grass out on the course twice. He added the greens aren’t in midseason form quite yet, they are getting close.

Watertown residents who have used the mild weather this month to get a head start on their outdoor projects will be able to drop off yard waste tomorrow at the Watertown Street Department’s yard waste dump site on Boomer Street.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The site usually does not open until April 4, however the warm weather has allowed the department to open the site up early this year. Barring any dramatic changes in the weather, the dump site will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until April 4.

Residents can drop off leaves, branches or anything else from their yards they collect during spring cleanups.

 Students in the Watertown Unified School District have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, also. Principal of Lincoln and Lebanon Elemen-tary schools Erin Meyer said children in both locations have happily ditched their snow pants, boots and winter coats.

At Lebanon, physical education classes have been held outside, while students at Lincoln like not having to share their playground with piles of snow. An overall buzz is in the air with the weather, allowing kids to enjoy recess more and concentrate better in class, Meyer said.

"You can see the excitement in their eyes and the happiness when they can run around and get their energy out," she said. "It's a benefit we see throughout the whole school day — the kids are refreshed and focused."

With spring set to begin Tuesday, winter may still return. The last measurable snowfall in both Madison and Milwaukee was recorded on May 11, 1966. And May is still two months away.


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