Snow and Ice Conditions in the Northwoods

Posted on: January 26, 2024

Lakes in general have safe ice for ATV’s, snow dogs, and snowmobiles but there was less ice formation over the cold stretch than expected. Most lakes have some slush and it will likely get worse with traffic over the weekend.  Clubs and businesses are marking trails across some of the larger bodies of water.

What little snow was on the trails in northern WI was panned by groomers and some was chewed up by a few riders on the closed trails. Some wet spots did freeze up but others have not. Further north there has been some opportunity to ride in the true snow belt from lake Gogebic to the peninsula. Most clubs have suspended trail grooming operations as conditions are deteriorating fast.

The little powdery snow we had on the ground has become much wetter and heavier and compacts well now.

An extended stretch of warm weather will create run off and currents so use extra caution in areas where those conditions typically exist. Some landing accesses may deteriorate substantially and be wet. Trails in some areas will melt to bare ground south of the border and nearly so north of it.

With no snow in the 10 day forecast and virtually none in the 30 day forecast snowmobile trail riding may not be an option in February.

Many local ice and snow dependent events have been canceled including the pond hockey tournament at Eagle River and the construction of the Ice Castle. I doubt we’ll see an ice road out to Madeline Island again this year.

Some area businesses are holding events and making special offers to maintain cash flow and are desperate to hold on this winter. Some fishing guides I know have invested in air boats to bridge seasonal gaps and cope with changing ice conditions.

Economically a no snow winter is a disaster for businesses that have become completely dependent on snowmobile tourism. The locals can’t make up that shortfall by increasing spending so it is imperative that we find ways to attract those tourists here regardless of snow or ice conditions.