Outdoor Report: Recent weather could point to tough winter
We had a months worth of winter weather in about two days this week and as we go into the weekend things are very much up in the air as far as outdoor sports goes. There was optimism about winter early this week; we had good conditions for ice to form and snow was looking good.
Wednesday brought more snow; skiers were itchy. Then the rains came and cold followed and in those two days things changed.
Right now there are concerns about lake ice. It’s too early to tell (this goes to press Thursday morning) but the issue will be heavy rains on ice that will lead to slush on what ice there is and weaken thin ice that has formed. Even by Wednesday afternoon, we were hearing of slush and that was before the rain got heavy.
As it stands we are really concerned about the quality of the ice going into the weekend. Any early ice is suspect and anyone going out needs to check it as they go. The subzero cold will help firm things up but all ice should be considered thin until proven otherwise.
The rain that affected ice will prove an issue for snow sports as well. We saw snowmobile groomers out on some trails (north of Rhinelander) Wednesday evening and ski groomers on a few area trails were packing things down as well. That will firm up the base. But without new snow to build things up we expect very limited options for snow sports this weekend.
Some cross country trails will be open for the weekend but for limited skiing. And skiers (or anyone else out) should be wearing some blaze orange in light of the ongoing deer seasons.
That same combination of rain and cold will probably leave a heavy layer of crust in the woods. For deer hunters that will prove problematic; it will be very noisy when walking. The best tactic will be to get in a stand or blind and sit for as long as possible.
Deer need to feed and they’ll be out. When they are, that same noisy crust will telegraph their moves well before they come into sight.
We’ve seen some hard weather early. Below zero temperatures and the icy crust to snow are two factors that really will stress wildlife. It is way too early to make any assumptions but if this weather continues it will be a long, hard winter and that will take a toll on all wildlife.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.