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Temperature swings take a toll on northern Michigan ski trails

Snow Trail.jpg
Patrick Shea
/
Interlochen Public Radio
In just a couple of days, a rapidly melting snow base put a halt to cross-country skiing in northern Michigan.

With two major snowfalls before Christmas, the outlook seemed good for cross country skiing in northern Michigan this winter.

But after multiple days of rain and temperatures around 50 degrees, the snow base all but disappeared.

“I've never seen that much snow melt that quickly in the winter,” said Ann Wagar, a director at Forbush Corners, a popular ski trail system in Crawford County.

“I've seen it in the spring, but not in the winter,” Wagar said. “And it was such a short period of time — 36 hours — that we lost over two feet of snow.”

Forbush has a 1.25 mile loop of machine-made snow that remains open. But Wagar said the other 15 miles on the property are un-skiable until more snow comes.

The recent temperature swing has also led to the cancellation of a ski race in Grayling. The Winter Wolf Skiathlon was planned for this Saturday at Hanson Hills Recreation Area, but has been called off due to poor snow conditions.

There are some minor snow showers in the forecast for northern Michigan this week, but it’ll take several more inches before the Nordic ski season really gets rolling.

“We’re down to mostly dirt,” said Brian Beauchamp with TART Trails, a group that grooms three trail systems for skate and classic skiing in the Traverse City area.

“Obviously skiing is not an option right now, but the trails are still there,” said Beauchamp. “And that’s the best way to beat the effects of perma-gloom weather: to get out there and experience the majesty of the woods, regardless of the conditions.”