2017-01-26 / Outdoors

Snow enthusiasts left out, but snow and low temperatures near

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Outdoor enthusiasts have been left out in the cold — or warmth, for this time of year, which has led to bare ground and soggy soil.

The lack of snow has taken a toll on use of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

“It’s been terrible,” said Kerry Kelly, chairman of the Friends of Sleeping Bear, the group that maintains the trail. “It’s too slushy to ski and the frost is out of the soil. You go down about three or four inches on your bike.”

High temperatures in the county have been above freezing since Jan. 15 and low temperatures have dropped below 32 just once in the past week.

The average high temperature in the 10-day period came out at 38.2 degrees; the average low, 26.9.

Unseasonably warm temperatures have been good for heating bills but bad for recreation.

With the exception of the Taghon Memorial drag race last weekend in Empire, opportunities to snowmobile in the county have been pretty much limited to the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend earlier this month.

Between Jan. 11 and 17, 5.1 inches of snow were recorded at the National Weather Service weather coop station in Maple City.

No new snow fell in the past week and the largest one-day precipitation of .24 inches came Jan. 17 in liquid form.

The season’s snowfall total of 74.6 inches is no where to be seen as springlike have receded the snow-pack.

But the January thaw has been a spring-tease, resulting in a mostly bare Leelanau landscape of brown and green, dotted with a periodic snow patch.

The warm-up was the result of a slow-mowing weather pattern that kept Arctic air at bay over the Plains and the Dakotas.

“It resulted in a more ‘Ohio Valley type’ flow, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Rozanski.

But the pattern is due to change in the coming days. Early yesterday afternoon large snowflakes began to fall with prospects for more over the weekend.

“There’s a low moving through the southern Great Lakes and there’s some cold air behind it setting things up for some lake-enhanced snow,” Rozanski said. “You could see two-to-three inches a day.”

That’s good news for some, but Kelly isn’t revving up the trail groomer yet.

“We need a good five inches or so and the trail doesn’t always get what others do inland, because it’s so close to the water,” he said.

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