2016-12-29 / Outdoors

Snow melted, but more is on the way

Homestead keeps six runs open
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


LEELANAU CONSERVANCY staffers Becky Hill and Emily Douglas, from left, took advantage of great snow conditions earlier this month and skied at the Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. LEELANAU CONSERVANCY staffers Becky Hill and Emily Douglas, from left, took advantage of great snow conditions earlier this month and skied at the Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. Skiers across the county watched with trepidation as temperatures rose to 51 degrees on Monday and then rain fell, turning white powder into sheets of ice.

However, downhill skiing survived.

Jamie Jewell, vice president of sales and marketing for The Homestead, said ski conditions are very good with six runs out of 15 open right now.

“We were planning to have more open, but that warm-up took a toll on that snow that we had,” Jewell said.

But now that it’s cold again the snow machines are running and adding to the base, she said.

“We’re trying to get as many runs open as quickly as possible,” Jewell said. “It helped to have that early snow.”

John Kasben, head ski coach at Glen Lake School, said the team’s first meet on Wednesday at Crystal Mountain should take place as scheduled.

“Warm-ups aren’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Kasben, who has been coaching the ski team for more than 10 years. This is his fourth season as head coach.

“Crystal Mountain makes really good snow,” he said. “And with all the snow we had before that conditions should still be top-notch. The last time I was there they had tons of snow.”

For those who enjoy sports on nature-made snow, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are in the near forecast, with snow flurries predicted for the next several days.

A clipper system out of Alberta will give the area another inch or so, said Scott Rozanski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord.

Then lake effect will take over and drop another couple of inches, he said.

“It will be pretty seasonal-type weather all the way around,” Rozanski said — but nothing like the snow that fell a couple of weeks ago.

For the next couple of weeks temperatures will likely stay between about 23 and 34 degrees.

As of Wednesday morning, 45 inches of snow had fallen in the county. By this time last year only a little more than 11 inches had been measured.

Andrew Nash, assistant manager at Suttons Bay Bikes, said that when the snow falls off, business falls off.

“When there’s been lots of snow we’ve had lots of business,” Nash said. “All that early snow was great for business.”

The store typically gets a lot of business between the Christmas and New Years holidays from visitors and those locals who have time off from jobs and school.

The store rents snowshoes, cross country skis and fat bikes, which Nash says started in Alaska and are designed for snow.

“You can get to work on a fat bike,” Nash said. “It’s a great way to get outside,” especially those bikers who want to keep in shape over the winter.

For those who like cross country skiing, there’s plenty of access to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, though Monday’s unseasonably warm temperatures have put a damper on most winter activities.

“It’s pretty icy right now,” said Kerry Kelly, chairman of the Friends of Sleeping Bear. “Until we get some fresh snow to cover the ice, we’re suggesting people snowshoe or walk. It’s no good for skiing.”

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