The next week will bring us to mid-March and by that time the sun is high enough that it usually brings some heat. This year? It’s a wait-and-see time as this winter refuses to let up. The -28 temperature this past Monday set an official record for that date and average temperatures have been running far below the norm.
Having noted that, a few days of warm weather and some rain can condense the snow cover significantly. Time will tell the story but for now, winter is hanging on pretty tight.
The implications of the long winter are several. For one, snow sports today are about as good as they can get. Skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers all are in their glory days. On the downside the heavy snows and sub zero temperatures will take a toll on deer and turkeys. You will undoubtably read more on this in the upcoming weeks but for now it seems safe to say that there will be significant loss for both.
Left unanswered for now is the impact on water levels of the snow; it could help recharge the low lake levels we’ve endured lately. And the harsh sub zero temperatures may impact some invasive species that have thrived in the milder winters of late.
What will be clear after this winter is that hard winters can still occur in Wisconsin, a lesson we may have forgotten in the past decade. And those severe winters always affect the entire natural system.
For now we head into a weekend with mild temperatures in the forecast and great snow cover. That, of course, is the perfect scenario for skiers and snowmobilers. All ski and snowmobile trails should be in very good to excellent shape this weekend and into next week. Deep snow covers the north and ongoing grooming of area trails simply works out to some very good conditions on warmer days.
On the ice fishing front the same conditions exist for the most part as we’ve seen the past weeks. Snowcover and slush on many lakes limits access and as such we are not hearing a lot on the ice fishing front. Anglers are finding some crappies, still in deeper water, but overall things are slow. The best scenario is of some warmer weather to compact snow and slush enough for better access on lakes. Then we may well be able to finish the ice season with a flourish.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.