December in Wisconsin typically involves snow, snow and more snow. However, 2011 will go down as one of the warmest and driest Decembers on record, with brown grass and balmy (by our standards) temperatures.
The National Weather Service reports the average temperature for December so far in Milwaukee is 33.2 degrees, a whopping 6.4 degrees above normal. Snowfall has measured all of 1.1 inches, when the normal is close to a foot.
The lack of snow has been a blessing and a curse to residents of Brookfield. Taxpayers are saving in a sense, as city snow plows sit idle and salt stores go untouched.
Brookfield Finance Director Robert Scott said an average 2-5 inch snowstorm would cost the city $25,000 to 30,000 in manpower and materials. Typically, by this point in December there would have been two or three storms.
Instead, public works employeees are devoting time to trimming trees, cleaning culverts and doing other projects that would normally be pushed aside by snow clearing duties.
"The taxpayers are seeing some savings, in material costs," Scott said. "The fact that salt is not being used now will save us in the future, because it is not going anywhere."
Snowblower sales down
While there are some savings for taxpayers, businesses that sell snow plows and blowers are seeing slower business.
John Rosenberg, owner of Bill's Power Center, said purchases of snow blowers are down but customers are bringing in their machines for seasonal tune-ups.
"There may not be snow now, but we now it's coming," Rosenberg said.
And while the lack of snow has limited opportunities for skating, sledding, skiing or snow-shoeing, one outdoor activity has seen a bump from the warm weather — golf.
Westmoor Country Club usually doesn't have duffers hitting the links in December, but this year's warm weather have drawn golfers to the course.
"It's not a lot, but anything over nothing is a major jump," a club representative said.
So, enjoy the warm, snowless weather while it lasts.