The long and wild winter that seemed never-ending took a hard hit last Monday as temperatures soared into the 50s. On that sunny, warm afternoon things changed fairly dramatically in the winter sport arena. When we look back at this winter, that single day will likely mark the turning point as we head, finally, toward spring.
The warm weather on Monday (and less so the other days this week) started spring thaw. Snow pack settled a bit; the light snow a week earlier changed as moisture started to work down. That will affect snow sports from here on out. And while lake conditions did not improve, the late March warmth should start to work on that in upcoming days.
Snowmobile trails this weekend will be very good to excellent. Groomers can break up the crusty snow pack and deliver up some very good conditions. That should be the case in the days ahead. This time of the season, the sun can start to break down snow cover in open areas so be aware of that. But in the miles of trails in the deep woods, snow cover remains exceptional.
Skiers will be dealing with crusty conditions and trails will be totally dependent on grooming. After a warm afternoon trails can turn very icy overnight, so early morning skiing is often on hard, icy trails. Those conditions offer little to no change at good control and most skiers avoid them. Later in the day, as temperatures rise, the snow softens and skiing can be exceptional.
Bottom line for skiers is to watch the weather and wait for some warming temperatures before going out. The forecast does call for some snow in the upcoming week and if it comes, things will turn for the better.
Lakes in the area have a lot of slush and that has cut ice fishing for the past month or more. We simply are not getting enough in the way of reports from anglers to post anything here except that slush is a huge issue and is not getting better.
While spring has seemed a long way off, we are not that far out from spring turkey hunting. Turkey numbers will be down a lot after this winter but any remaining spring permits go on sale Monday, the 17th. Check DNR regs for dates that each zone will be on sale. Most zones in this area have some permits for the last weeks of the season.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.