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Observations by Gary Fewless for Green Bay WI (Lat.N 44.51° Long. W 88.02° ), except as noted. For flowers lacking conspicuous petals or sepals I define "anthesis" as release of pollen by mature anthers.

March 2008 Mouse-over the photo for the identities of the three subjectsL to R: silver maple female flowers, "British soldier" lichen, leatherwood flowers

Mar 31

An entry on wisbirdnet reported 400-500 Tundra Swans in a field west of Shiocton, and another reported about 600 swans flying over Stevens Point early in the morning.

A strong storm moved through Wisconsin and upper Michigan delivering thunder with 1.2 inches of rain and a dusting of snow in Green Bay, 7 inches of snow to the north in Rhinelander and rains to the south. Marquette, in upper Michigan, received 9.8 inches of new snow and reports snow depth of 23 inches. Marquette received 31.4 inches of snow in March!

Mar 30 Watched a pair of crows in the garden find an English sparrow that was winter killed and feed on it. After some feeding the crow stashed the remains in a ground plant foliage and added some more leaves to hide it. The crow is saving the carion for a snack on another day. I have recorded owls doing similar behavior with excess prey, City of Green Bay (Dave Parsons)..
Mar 29

Woodcock return to Pensaukee, Oconto County. Also, large numbers of Tundra Swans arrived on Green Bay--finding no open water they headed inland, perhaps to the Wolf River area near Shiocton (Tom Erdman).

Wooly bear caterpillar and several julid millipedes on the move, Fox River Trail near HWY 172 in Allouez, Brown County, WI (Mike Draney).

Woodchucks out and about, Allouez, Brown County.

Our brief period of spring like weather has brought out nearly everyone after a long winter. There were numerous boats of fisherman on the Fox River, below the DePere dam as seen from the Highway 172 bridge in Green Bay.

Mar 28 Temperatures in the 30's today and spring continues to advance slowly. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that the water level of Lake Michigan has remained nearly steady through March and is about the same as it was in February, and about 6 inches lower than last year at this time. There should be an influx of melt water over the next month or more. The water level for Lake Superior is up about 7 inches from last year at this time.
Mar 27

The ice went off the East River in Green Bay overnight, at my usual check point in Allouez (lower portions of the river near East High School were open last night). The river was ice-covered for 121 days, 57 days longer than last year, but it falls far short of the ice-cover of 148 days in the winter of 1995/1996. Here's a graph of days of continuous ice-cover at this location from 1992-2008. The average for these 17 years is 105 days of ice-cover, but as the graph indicates there was great variation among the years, ranging from 62-148.

The above graph illustrates an important point about the terms "average" or "normal" as they are used in regard to weather. The number of ice-covered days in a winter averaged 105 days , but in 17 years of data, the period was never 105 days. If we call the 105 day average the "normal" as is sometimes done in weather related data, it is possible to label as "normal" an outcome that has never actually happened.

Killdeer return to Shawano (Joel Whitehouse).

First Song Sparrow of the year in yard, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Saw my first Woodchuck of the year in a yard while driving, Rockwood, Manitowoc County (Jay Watson).

Mar 26

Last year on this date the high temperature was a record 78° F. This year's high of 46° is more typical of the season.

The National Weather Service data reports only a "trace" of snow on open sites in Green Bay. There is still considerable snow in forests and anywhere it has been shaded, piled or drifted. The Weather Service reports a snowcover of 17 inches in Rhinelander (!!), approximately 100 miles NW of Green Bay! Wisconsin DNR reports some northern Wisconsin lakes still have 26-30 inches of ice and ice-fishing is still going strong. Black bears are reported to be out of hibernation even in the northernmost counties.

Mar 25

More snow flurries this morning (Green Bay recorded a total of 0.5 inches for the day), sometimes quite heavy, but we received some sunshine later and temperatures rose to 45° F by 11 am.

Here's a comparison of UWGB's Prairie Pond in late March from 2003 through 2008. In addition to the variability of snow cover on the landscape, note the different stages of ice cover on the pond among the years.

Mar 24 Spring advances slowly. Cool weather persists with a morning low temperature of 16° F and a high temperature of 35° F. The good news is that the unusually deep winter snow is melting slowly so there is little if any serious flooding to this point.
Mar 23

Brief snow flurries today as spring experiences another setback.

Road-killed Opossum near corner Van Buren and Eastman, east Green Bay (Mike Draney).

A quick and ill-advised check of the area near the Wolf River at Shiocton revealed no returning swans and only a couple of Sandhill Cranest. The flooded low areas frequented by early returnees are still mostly fully frozen over.

Mar 22

Return of Killdeer to Pensauke, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).

First Eastern Bluebird of the year in the yard today; Eastern Chipmunks chasing each other in woods, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 21 Open lawns and fields are showing considerable bare ground through the melting snow, but shaded areas and forests remain mostly snow-covered. A robust storm is predicted to deliver 10+ inches of snow to southeastern Wisconsin today, but only minor amounts for Green Bay. [post script: Green Bay did not get any snow, Milwaukee received 11.5 inches and some areas of southeastern Wisconsin reported 15+ inches.]
Mar 20

First day of Spring, astronomically speaking. There is some discord with the appearance of the landscape (see the snow graph below).

Eastern Chipmunk out and about, Lakewood, Oconto County (Steve Janke).

Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage) in flower (anthesis), UWGB. I suspect that some flowers released pollen by March 13, under the snow. Several flowers were dug up and the tops broken off by an animal and there was free pollen inside the spathe. I couldn't find any intact spathes above the snow to check. The National Weather Service in Green Bay reorted 11 inches of snow on the ground on the 13th and it seemed a bit deeper in the woods. Some accounts I have read of skunk cabbage make it sound as though the flowers commonly melt their way through the snow, but I have found it to be rare over the last 25 years or so, in this area (see above link for a photo).

Here's a graph of snow depth for Green Bay, March 2008 to date. Today's depth in Green Bay is 3 inches, but Rhinelander to the northwest is still reporting 19 inches!!

First Song sparrow, Oconto County, Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).

Mar 19

Although the snow is slowly melting, there is still plenty in the woods. The National Weather Service at Green Bay reported 5 inches of standing snow yesterday, but the snow is deeper in forests and other shaded places. Arboretum trails are still snow-covered and difficult to walk on, UWGB.

Sandhill Cranes return to Shawano (Shawano County) and Keshina (Menominee County) today (Joel Whitehouse).

Mar 18

Eastern Chipmunk out and about this morning, Shawano County (Joel Whitehouse).

A little light snow and rain in Green Bay.

The overnight low temperature for Green Bay was 33° F. This is the first day that our temperature did not fall to freezing or below since January 8 (70 consecutive days). Looking back, 115 days of the last 120 (back to Nov 19) fell to 32° or lower. To date there have been 22 days with a low temperature below zero, the lowest was -14° F, and one day had a high temperature below zero (January19, -1°). The total snowfall is over 80 inches, nearly 3 feet above the average.

Mar 17 Light snow began mid-afternoon (0.2 inches), City of Green Bay.
Mar 16

Sandhill Crane flew over our house, Allouez, Brown County.

Yellow jackets (wasps) active near buildings, UW-Green Bay (Tom Erdman).

First Brown-headed Cowbird seen in morning., Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 15

Small f locks of Red-winged Blackbirds in East River Marshes and their usual spring associates have also returned, Brown-headed Cowbirds, European Starlings and Common Grackles. American Robins are present in small flocks. Sandhill Crane flying over Allouez, Brown County. Other species have also returned. If someone has more specifics for Brown County, please send them along.

I saw my first Muskrat of the year, Allouez Avenue, Town of Bellevue.

Mar 14

Turkey Vultures reported for Brown County (Bob Howe).

Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbirds in Town of Pensaukee, Oconto County. A few had returned yesterday (Tom Erdman).

Today we had the first of year American Robins, Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds in the yard, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 13

A few returning Red-winged Blackbirds and Robins in marshes along the East River, Allouez, Brown County.

Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, Kewaunee County near the Door County Border (Heather Gentry).

Acer saccharinum (silver maple) buds are clearly swollen now and should develop quickly if warm weather continues.

High temperature in Green Bay is 48° F, our highest temperature since November 14.

Mar 12

There are numerous reports of migrating birds in southern Wisconsin, including various ducks, swans, Sandhill Cranes and the usually early influx of blackbirds, Robins, Killdeer etc.--perhaps as far north as Horicon Marsh. We have a bit of snow to melt here, but the warmer temperatures will hasten the movements.

The Green Bay weather station reports about 10 inches of snow still on the ground.

A bit of a set-back for spring in the evening as Green Bay received about 0.8 inches of new snow. This brings our winter total to 80.3 inches, making this the snowiest winter since the 1880's, where records are a little fuzzy. The three snowiest winters in Green Bay are from the 3 consecutive winters of 1886/87, 87/88 and 88/89. There has been some reluctance to accept these records, in part because they are the earliest records for the Green Bay area and in part because the latter two are so far above the modern reports (125.2 inches and 100.6 inches). However a recent newspaper article indicates that there is support for these very snowy winters in the news reports of the time and in news reports of severe winters elsewhere in the U.S. during that period. The severity of winter may have been related to the famous eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in August of 1883 (and smaller eruptions in 1886 and 1888). Ash, dust and in particular large volumes of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is believed to have resulted in increased clouds that impeded sunlight to the extent that there were major climatic reverberations for several years following. Some recent research indicates that there was significant cooling of the oceans that in turn affected climate for decades after the eruption.

Mar 11 Green Bay's high temperature was 42° F, a welcome change from the recent cold weather that was been about 10-20 below seasonal norms.
Mar 07

The low temperature was -4° F in Green Bay and the high was only 18° F.

Winter drags on with temperatures running about 10 degrees below average for this tiime of year. We have had 79.5 inches of snow total for the winter in Green Bay and the long term average for total is 42.6 inches. Snow depth is still 12 inches in our area and there are still big snowbanks in the city.

Mar 04 The rain and meltwater of March 2 covered the ice on Prairie Pond and overnight lows of 13 and 8° F since then have frozen it all.
Mar 03 Green Bay received 1.8 inches of snow today. Before yesterday's rain and warm temperatures the snow depth was 16 inches and by today it was down to 12 inches--including the new snow.
Mar 02 Green Bay's high temperature was 45° F and we received 0.78 inches of rain.
Mar 01 Skunk out and about, Oconto County, Pensaukee area (Tom Erdman)

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Last updated on April 15, 2014