Folks, it’s been a strange year for the Marcus Center Snow Pile.

We’ve diligently kept watch on the big pile of snow that forms on the east side of the Marcus Performing Arts Center’s parking structure—the parking structure at 929 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee—for years. “When will it melt this time?” we wonder every year as we drive/walk by the thing, snapping pictures and noting changes in its size like complete lunatics. Occasionally we make a poll asking the fine people of Milwaukee to guess the date of the Pile’s springtime demise. (It usually bites the big one in early- to mid-April.) Hell, we even made a shirt out of it.

Here’s what the Pile typically looks like in the winter. (It still strikes us as funny that it’s formed by plowing the snow from the top level through a gap in the fence. Call us easily amused, we guess.)

January 26, 2021

Around mid-March, it typically looks like this:

March 16, 2022

And by April, it’s more or less gone:

April 23, 2019

In 2024, however, things have been a little different. Here’s what the Pile looked like two months ago. It was a solid if somewhat modest showing for mid-January:

January 17, 2024

And here’s what it looks like today:

March 11, 2024

Oh wow! It melted already? Well, sort of…

You see, not long after this season’s one big snowfall (January 11-13, roughly), the elves in charge of the Marcus Center Snow Pile broke the thing up and spread it out along the parking structure wall. Most of the snow ended up in small piles on the northern end of the structure. Thus, the capital “P” Pile—the one below the gap in the fence—was only around for a week or so. Before we could even put a poll together, it was gone. Today, the area is a muddy patch of random debris and dog poop that we usually don’t see until Milwaukee Day.

This sorry State of the Snow Pile has less to do with the Marcus Center’s plowing plans (they’ve busted up the Pile before) and more to do with our winter—or our lack of winter. Perhaps you’ve heard that the U.S. is having its warmest winter on record? Or that Wisconsin is “on track to have its warmest winter ever recorded, with January temperatures 8.5 degrees warmer than average”? Maybe you saw something about Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin imploring businesses affected by the lack of snow to apply for a federal disaster loan program? “The lack of snow we’ve experienced so far this winter has had serious economic impacts on folks and businesses, especially in our Northern counties, who rely on snow and winter weather to attract customers and be successful,” Evers said. Could we apply for that program?

We kid, of course. And, because we like to make lemonade when life hands us climate change-spiked lemons, we’re not giving up on the Snow Pile. While the main Pile is long gone, a smaller pile remains to the north. Here it is today:

So we’re making a belated executive decision: THIS IS THE SNOW PILE WE’LL BE WATCHING THIS YEAR. So…place your bets! When will it melt? And with two days of 60-degree weather ahead of us, will it even make it to Wednesday?

Yeah, it’s been an off year, and yeah, plans to tear down the Marcus Center parking structure and replace it with a new development may put an end to the annual Snow Pile altogether, but this will have to do. Sorry!

Then again, we did spot a nice pile under the freeway near the Summerfest grounds this past weekend…

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About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.