Residents of northern Wisconsin aren’t appreciating April fools this year, as another major snowstorm is predicted this week. The National Weather Service Thursday issued winter storm watches and warnings for the northern half of Wisconsin, with up to 17 inches of heavy and wet snow forecast.
Central and northeastern parts of the state could see ice accumulations up to quarter inch starting and wind gusts up to 30 mph were expected as the storm moves through.
This new snow will be falling on the 2 to 3 feet of snow that still remains across much of the Northwoods. State wildlife officials continue to be concerned about this winter’s impact on deer and turkey, with the winter severity index already at severe and very severe across the north.
A reminder that even with the expected snow, most snowmobile trails are now closed across the state. And with the ice coming out of the ground in southern and central Wisconsin many of the trails are very soft and muddy. Mountain bike and horse trails are closed until things dry out, and bicyclists are asked to refrain from riding on the soft limestone screening of rails trails to avoid causing ruts.
The recent warm up has opened up more water in the southern half of the state, but lakes in the north still have 20 to 28 inches of ice. Small ponds and rivers are open throughout the south, as are shorelines of larger lakes. Lake Winnebago shorelines have eroded significantly and the 3 feet of ice that anglers have enjoyed this winter has become spongy and cracked in many areas. Several vehicles have fallen through the ice in recent days.
Very few ice anglers have been out in the north, but fishing activity has picked up in the south. Walleye anglers were open water fishing on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River this week all the way up to the Wisconsin Dells dam. There was some fishing activity on the Fox River and the Wolf River is starting to open up. Southern Lake Michigan tributaries continue to open up, and some steelhead and brown trout have been caught. Many of the Mississippi River boat landings are open, although none have the docks in place. Anglers have been fishing for sauger but report that fishing is early yet and slow. Anglers are also being reminded that 2013-14 licenses expired March 31 so they should pick up their 2014-15 licenses and regulations if they haven’t already.
Turkeys are gobbling more on warmer mornings and a few are splitting off the large winter flocks and toms are being seen strutting for hens in the morning hours.
Spring bird migration finally hit Wisconsin in earnest last week, especially in the southern half of the state, with eastern phoebe, tree swallow, yellow-bellied sapsucker, fox sparrow, hermit thrush, winter wren, purple finch and other songbirds seen. Waterfowl have really moved in as well, including the full diversity of dabbling ducks and plenty of divers on larger water bodies. Tundra swans made their initial push as well, particularly across the eastern tier from Green Bay southward.