Those who relied on Punxsutawney Phil for their winter weather forecast probably are ready to throttle the four-legged meteorologist.
Wednesday marked the first day of spring, but temperatures in McHenry County never got out of the 20s, and lows approached single digits. And temperatures will remain below average for at least the next seven days, said Amy Seeley of the National Weather Service.
“There’s a cold air mass in place that just isn’t moving,” Seeley said.
The average high for this time of year is 47 degrees.
As winter temperatures spill over into spring, high school sports are adjusting practice schedules to deal with the cold weather.
Marian Central canceled all of its baseball, softball and soccer games this week, and practices have been moved indoors.
“This is the toughest winter we’ve had in six years,” Marian Central athletic director Michael McGovern said. “We can’t get outside.”
McGovern said some nonconference games might have to be cut because the spring schedule already is squeezed because of end-of-year testing and prom.
The Crystal Lake South baseball team has canceled six games this season because of the cold and likely won’t get on the field until next week.
“It’s affected us quite a bit,” Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda said. “A year ago, we would have played four or five games by now.”
Bogda said it usually takes a couple of 50-degree days to begin thawing the field.
The landscaping industry also is feeling the effects of the lingering winter weather.
Lori Harms, greenhouse manager at Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery and Garden Center, said sales have been down drastically compared with this time last year, when temperatures reached 80 degrees.
“If you’re looking at sales month to month, it’s not even close,” Harms said. “This time last year we were in full swing selling our spring products.”
The frozen ground has required Harms and many other gardeners to rely on greenhouses to keep plants alive. Countryside has kept its greenhouse at 70 degrees to get the Easter lilies to bloom in time for the holiday, which in turn has increased the company’s heating bill, Harms said.
Tom Kusmerz, owner of The Barn Nursery and Landscape Center in Cary, said he won’t be able to dig up fresh trees from his Harvard farm for another two weeks.
“Everything is slowed down,” he said. “We started digging on the third of March last year. We’re almost a month behind that.”
But not everyone is dreading the extra few weeks of winter. When the county saw temperatures climb into the 80s last March, apple trees bloomed too early and then frosted over when the weather cooled in April, said Jaki Berggren of the McHenry County Illinois Convention & Visitor Bureau.
“A lot of farmers are happy it’s not warming up,” Berggren said. “It’s better for the crops.”
The drawn-out cold season comes after an unusually warm start to the winter months. Temperatures reached the 60s in both December and January.
For now, McHenry County residents will have to keep out the blankets and space heaters, and keep cursing America’s furry rodent weatherman.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Brian Bogda coached the Crystal Lake Central baseball team. He is the coach of Crystal Lake South.