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Winter weather enthusiasts get out before the deep freeze

Saturday's weather relatively warm compared to what's to come

MOUNT HOREB, Wis. - 23778998

Winter activity diehards hit the slopes on Saturday, trying to get in some outdoor fun before the anticipated bitter cold coming to southern Wisconsin could make such excursions downright dangerous.

Some folks described the Saturday weather as warm, and compared to what's expected to come starting early Sunday morning, it would be hard to argue with that description.

"It was so warm earlier I had my coat undone," said Chicago's Nicole Burr while enjoying the slopes at Mount Horeb's Tyrol Basin.

"This is like a heat wave," concurred Tracey Lareau of Fitchburg.

But even while they joyfully glided down the slopes, the upcoming severe cold seemed to be weighing on the minds of all skiers.

"It's absolutely beautiful, and tomorrow it's going to be 20 below or something like that," exclaimed John Burr of Chicago. "So I'm pretty excited we got one day in this weekend before the nastiness comes."

"It's going to be really cold and windy," said Lareau, "and when it's windy, it's a lot windier when you're at the top of a hill."

About 800 people enjoyed the relatively mild temperatures by strapping on skis and snowboards on Saturday at Tyrol Basin.

Management at the ski hill was happy to see the crowds on Saturday, especially given they've decided to close from 5 p.m. Sunday through 10 a.m. Tuesday.

"Every day is important," said Tyrol Basin general manager Don McKay. "We're only open about 105 days a year, so every day is important, especially during the holiday periods and weekends."

"This is probably one of the first times we've closed for any reason," continued McKay, "but in this case we talked it over. At first we weren't going to close, we went back and forth, but honestly it's a safety issue for our customers and employees."

Also on Saturday evening, Blue Mound State Park was also busy, as the glow of campfires and flickering of candles danced across the cold – but not yet frigid – night sky during the monthly "candlelight ski/hike" event.

"We've done this for several years in a row," said Jane Hyer of Cross Plains. "It's also my birthday. This is the best weather we've had in a week. We're going to enjoy a lovely evening, and the snowshoe trail being lit with the candles is actually beautiful."

The slopes at Tyrol Basin on Saturday night were also quite beautiful . . . and busy. But the weather will ensure the hills will be quiet on Monday.

But even the most avid skiers aren't too upset about the closure.

"What if it was, like, super cold, no way, I'd never ski in it," exclaimed Brooke Mietz of McFarland.

"Because when it's like, that cold and I go down the hill, my face will probably freeze and fall off," laughed Sean Valley of Madison.

But as enjoyable as Saturday on the slopes was, the upcoming dangerous cold looks to be no laughing matter.

In related news, after area snowmobile trails had to shut down last weekend due to warm temperatures, trails in the northeast and southeast quadrants (bordered to the west by Highways 12, 51, and 14) of Dane County are now back open.

But officials warn that fields might be rough until more snow falls.

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