Portage feeling ‘stir crazy’ after another April snowstorm

April 20, 2018

Weather is a bit different in Hawaii.

“I built a snowman to help me shovel the sidewalks,” said Oahu transplant Katie Gerling as she removed snow from the sidewalk Thursday near her home on the east side of Portage.

Portage residents like Gerling dealt with the aftermath of yet another April snowstorm — the second winter storm in four days. She moved to Portage from Kailua last year to teach first grade at St. John’s Lutheran School, which like several other schools had been delayed two hours after the area received more than 6 inches of snow Wednesday.

“This is the first time I’ve seen April snow,” Gerling said. “I’m looking forward to some tulips.”

Portage United Methodist Church displayed a message on its outdoor sign that summarized how Pat Hartley felt about the weather.

“It says, ‘Whoever has been praying for snow, please stop,’” he said.

Hartley took a short break from plowing the sidewalk near his home on the west side of Portage and offered his own personal forecast: “I would think that by now, we’re done. I’d like to play golf.”

Hartley serves on the city’s Police and Fire Commission and is a retired plant manager from Alliant Energy. He said the last time he remembers this much snow, this far into spring, was in 1973.

Portage Director of Public Works Aaron Jahncke said the city sent out six plows from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and then again at 3 a.m. Thursday before finishing the snow removal at noon that day. April snowstorms in Wisconsin aren’t all that unusual, Jahncke said, “But it is odd to get them back to back.”

“Just shocking,” said Jason Guckeen, owner of Endeavor-based Platinum Property Maintenance and Plowing. After plowing the sidewalks along West Emmett Street, Guckeen said the spring snow is good for his business.

“Though it does put a damper on the landscaping,” Guckeen added.

“I love it. It’s Wisconsin,” said Ethan Brown, who spread salt on the walkways outside of St. John’s Lutheran Church and its school.

Has the long winter inconvenienced Brown?

“Nope,” he said. “Four-wheel drive.”

Not everyone was as upbeat.

“I’m hoping this is the end of it. I’m hoping. We’re all hoping,” senior citizen Sandra Gabbei said after shoveling the sidewalk outside of her home on East Carroll Street.

“I’m looking forward to green grass, the flowers, the trees,” she said. “But this is good exercise. Everybody needs exercise.”

River of Life Church Pastor Scott Dadam lamented the fresh powder would go to waste with Cascade Mountain closed for the season.

“I like the snow because I’m a skier, but unfortunately the ski hill is closed, so that doesn’t do us much good,” he said.

“It’s Wisconsin. It’s what you come to expect. This is what makes living in Wisconsin interesting,” Dadam said.

Elliot LaBelle of Davis Construction Company said, “It’s delayed a lot of people I know in construction. They can’t start anything because of this, so that’s the biggest thing to consider — the workforce.”

LaBelle on Thursday morning watched his son Michael, who marked his 15th birthday, use a wide broom to brush the pounds of snow from the Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of their West Haertel Street home.

“I think we’re going to get one more snowstorm. I really do,” the father said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had snow in May, but we’re about due.”

“It’s supposed to get in the 60s next week, so I’m hoping this will all be gone soon,” said Kalynn Denman as she shoveled her sidewalk on Marion Street. The 2009 Portage High School graduate is looking forward to exterior home renovations and getting her two young children outside more often.

“They’re going a little stir crazy,” she said of her kids.

According to Weather.com, Portage should be in the low 50s Friday and the high 50s Saturday and then get into the 60s from Sunday through Tuesday. Snow was already beginning to melt Thursday afternoon, which dealt the region highs in the 40s.

Said Jahncke: “We try to clear off as many catch basins and drains as possible, but if you could adopt one near your home — to keep it open as we lose the snow pack quickly — that’d be a great help.”