Groundhog Day blizzard, one year later

February 3, 2011 Team USA Snow Sculpture works on getting a sculpture called Fleeting Glimpse carved in downtown Lake Geneva. The snow sculpture contest is part of Winterfest in Lake Geneva. Here team members look at a model of the sculpture in a plastic box, to orient themselves properly while carving. From left to right are Tom Queoff of Milwaukee, Michael J. Sponholtz of Milwaukee, and Mike Martino (back to camera) from LaCrosse WI. Voting for the Peoples Choice winners takes place on Saturday. MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM Editor's note: NEEDS REFER FOR VIDEO. Image by Michael Sears

Groundhog Day blizzard, one year later

By Jesse Ritka. CREATED Feb 1, 2012

LAKE GENEVA -   It's been exactly one year since one of the worst winter storms in recent memory.  Snow fell for almost a full day, burying residents of southeast Wisconsin.

It's a totally different story this year.  Lake Geneva is one of the few place you're going to find snow, but even man-made, trucked in, snow is melting as the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition gets under way.

Snow sculptor George "Shamus McWeasel" Harnish tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka his team has to change their game plan for the competition due to the weather.  "Some of us are doing some major cuts and then we're going to call it pretty much a day to let Mother Nature have her temper tantrum."

But golf courses continue to benefit, Willie Lohr teed off at Grant Park golf course this morning, "Just to come out and hit a ball on Feb. 1st, I remember what I was doing last year on February 1st so this is awesome."

One year ago, a golf club was replaced with a shovel.  Even while Lohr was on the course, he was remembering the white out conditions of the Groundhog Day Blizzard  "When I got up in the morning, half my car was buried in the alley so it took me three and a half hours to dig my car out to get it moving again but I wasn't going anywhere because all the streets were pretty well plowed in."

It's an experience many can relate to after 18-24 inches of snow and whipping winds hit southeastern Wisconsin one year ago.  "Probably the biggest snowstorm I've ever experienced," recounts Lohr, so he's taking advantage of this weather.  "You just never know when the weather's going to change so when you grab a chance to play a golf course and its open close to home, you do it."

But a change to some of those colder Groundhog Day Blizzard temperatures is what the snow sculptors are hoping for.  Franklin snow sculptor Mark Mayzik is ready for a few long nights of carving, "We'll hopefully get some freezing weather at night to kind of stabilize them, so they'll hold up.  There is some timing involved with this warm weather."

But while snow sculptors come up with creative ways to keep their snow from melting, many are just thankful that they are not digging out from under two feet of snow.

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka joined TODAY’S TMJ4 and Storm Team 4 in February 2011 as the “Live at Daybreak” weekend meteorologist. Growing up in Prior Lake, Minnesota, Jesse has always been fascinated by storms.