Here is the short, ugly reality: All bets are off for winter recreation this weekend. If the forecast holds true, or anywhere close to true, we’ll be looking at a bad thaw moving in on Friday and lasting for several days. If true we will see a major impact, all negative, on snow conditions in the entire region. Period. No two ways about it.
Assuming that the temperatures will be in the upper 40s to 50ish the impact on snow will be significant. It is too early to know for certain that the forecast will hold accurate but we have to assume it will be close and go from there.
Snowmobile trails will be at risk given that many of them have portions exposed to the sun. Those areas will probably show significant melt down. Add to that lake crossings will now be wet at best and we’re looking at deteriorating conditions for this weekend. We will offer up a caution to evaluate trail conditions and to check with local clubs and groomers during the weekend for updates. Conditions will change quickly if the weather comes in.
The same is true for ski trails. Warm weather on exposed areas can take the base that we have and reduce it a lot. Should one ski on a softened trail one can damage that trail for future use. We would not be surprised to see trails closed to protect them this weekend and into next week. As with the snowmobile trails the best option is to check with ski shops or online for any updates on trail conditions and possible temporary closures.
Ice fishing will be altered significantly in terms of lake access if the temperatures rise as much as forecast. Standing water on ice will likely be the norm and degrading snow and ice near shore might well happen as well. None of this means that fishing will not be good should one get out on the ice but it will be sloppy going.
All winter thaws come to an end. The question will be how much damage this one can do in the time if lingers here. For the weekend expect conditions to change in a short period of time, especially on ski and snowmobile trails.
The Outdoor Report is prepared by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.