2018-03-01 / Front Page

Snow down but slopes still open

by Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

Brown grass is showing and temperatures have risen, cutting short opportunities for fun in the snow.

And it’s unclear whether we will have to keep shovels at the ready or if they can be safely stored for the season.

According to meteorologist John Boris with the National Weather Service in Gaylord, the answer seems to be “maybe.”

“There isn’t anything in the near term,” he said. “But March tends to be a little more volatile. That transition between the cooler and warmer temperatures can often have an effect on weather patterns.”

Boris expected temperatures to return to the mid-30s beginning today. “We have been a couple of degrees above normal with dry conditions, but snow or rain is a possibility Monday or Tuesday.”

“Right now, we’re really not in a weather pattern that looks really cold. We do have a system coming in (today) with precipitation in the southern part of the state, but it will bypass Leelanau County,” he said.

It seems that the snow has been bypassing us all month.

According to the National Weather Service, Gaylord’s readings show this season’s snowfall about two feet below normal at just 92.9 total inches. Average year-to-date snowfall for that area is 141.4 inches.

But two local business owners seem content with earlier opportunities for outdoor play.

Tom Bartholomew, senior manager of recreation at the Homestead Resort, said the ski runs have hosted steady action this season.

“Honestly, we’re doing pretty good. All of the snow around the edges is melted, but we have snow to ski on,” he said.

But ski enthusiasts shouldn’t wait, as the Homestead slopes will be closed after this weekend — right on time.

“We had scheduled (this weekend) and we’ve made it all the way through. It’s thinner than what we’d like, but we’re grateful.”

Suttons Bay Bikes tour and events manager Kendall Rose said “the fat tire biking season was cut a bit short due to a lack of a snow base.”

“Our biking community was super excited about it,” Rose said. “We had to be really diligent about watching trail conditions. After the last thaw, we realized it would be closed to fat bikes.”

Parshall Tree Service relies on snow removal to carry through winter months, but owner Corey Parshall isn’t disappointed with the clear driveways, either.

“There’s nothing really negative to say about not having snow,” he said. “We love the snow, but we love the trees more.

“We have kind of a unique situation. We relied heavily on snow removal for our business in the past... But to ‘weather’ the time when we don’t have snow, our guys hop right back on tree crews.”

Due to an increase in diseases attacking trees, Parshall’s crews are staying busy even with bare ground.

Crews are still working on ice removal, Parshall added.

“Even when it’s not snowing, the snow melts and freezes at night. We salt to reduce the risk of injury. A lot of deicing happens when there’s not a lot of snow.”

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