In like a lion, out like a lamb?
Now, the season of transition. At daybreak, snow, deep and pure. Then a higher rising sun that brings heat by late morning. By afternoon on a clear day the streets run wet with snow melt and people shuck heavy parkas for hoodies and long-sleeved shirts. It is March and March comes in wearing a rich mantle of deep snow but by month’s end more likely a threadbare rag of remnant snow. We may see snow for weeks to come or it may fall to melt and ruin soon. March is what that is all about. And we are into March now.
The rich, deep snow that accumulated over the last week, courtesy of two late-February snowfalls, is at some risk this week as daytime highs push into the 30s and 40s. What will mitigate the loss will be overnight lows below freezing. But, due to the forecast it becomes more difficult to predict what the upcoming week will bring for snow sports.
Start with snowmobiling, coming off the best weekend of the season after those two snow storms. All trails are covered and groomed as of early this week but expect them to show major softening in the afternoons this week. Areas exposed to direct sun will be hardest hit and the best advice now is to check for online updates on trail conditions. The warming trend this week will do no good on the snowmobile trails.
Same is true with cross country skiing. Very good conditions last weekend are now at some risk under warming temperatures. Ski trails can break down under use and skiing, especially skating, in a soft track can do major damage. Mornings often present the best time to ski after the snow sets overnight but can be risky if icy conditions develop. We expect trails to be open but be aware there may be some closures if the afternoons get too warm. Snow cover will be very good but the concerns will be to trail damage from use during thaw temperatures.
Ice fishing may be the one activity that benefits from the thaw as snow on lakes will settle quickly. The downside may be slush forming but anglers can deal with that. The gamefish season closes next Sunday and now is the time panfish start to heat up. Crappies remain steady in the warming temperatures and for many anglers they make up the main source of late season action. Expect panfish angling to improve weekly as we move through March.
The thaw/freeze cycle we are experiencing brings a start to the maple syrup season. It’s early now but the next weeks will bring that special season to the fore.
Winter is sliding away but there will be good opportunities in the upcoming weeks regardless of what the weather does. But don’t wait! It’s late season and the month ahead will bring huge changes.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.