Wednesday September 4th, 2019

Greetings and welcome!

Labor Day has passed and that means that we are about to kick off the snowmobile season. Hay Days is the official kickoff of the snowmobile season, and that is always the weekend after Labor Day. That is coming up in 3 days.

They have grown a lot over the years and have grown into a lot more than snowmobiling. Here is the web site of the Sno Barons if you want to find out more.

Last winter was amazing with the extreme amount of snow that we had late in the year. I recall writing that Rhinelander broke their all time record of 110″ of snow in a year and we had more storms after that. I also remember that we had over four feet of snow in one month, that I dug the plow truck out of huge snow banks a couple of times, and the little truck too. I also blew up the transmission in the plow truck running it so hard. Later in the year I ended up clearing the 1/4 mile driveway with the snow blower because the banks were so high that the plow truck was useless, and eventually I ended up running the snowmobile in and out.

Honestly the winter and all of the snow was a real pain. I spent a lot more time moving the snow than I did riding on it, I lost a lot of time at work because of it, and shoveling over four feet of hard packed snow off of my roofs was not fun. A lot of people lost barns, garages, mobile homes, and other buildings. Some summer people that only come around after Memorial Day found out that their camp had been leveled. I have an expression.. Because some is good does not mean that more is better. Five quarts of oil makes my car run good, but 30 quarts would not be 6x better, it would blow the motor up. That was how I saw the end of last winter.

I was expecting massive flooding when it all melted and thankfully I was wrong. The melt was fairly gradual, and the heavy blanket of snow insulated the ground so much that the frost came out of the ground under the snow before the big melt. At that point a lot of the runoff soaked in.

The big snow, combined with a wet spring and summer made for the best whitewater season that I have seen in my 30 years around the Peshtigo River. A reading of zero on the bridge by Kosir’s represents the normal summer flow. It is also about as low as you want to run it for whitewater. I have seen it go to zero as early as May and as late as July. This year it got close a couple of times, but it rained right away and shot river levels back up. It just went below zero this week for the first time, and yes it rained and brought it right back up a day later. I have never seen anything like it. It all started with last winter’s big snow.

The wicked weather did not stop with spring. We had a couple of pretty big bad storms this summer. The late July storm was absolutely devastating. You will see results of it across northern WI this year and for many to come. A ride up Hwy 32 from Suring to Lakewood will show miles and miles of devastated forests.

The morning of the storm I warned people that we had a particularly dangerous day ahead. The CAPE value was above 4,000 J/kg and the shear was expected to be over 40 knots. Those are conditions very similar to the day of the deadly eF5 Joplin, Mo tornado (165 dead, 1,500 injured). This day was going to end with a violent storm and probably tornadoes somewhere. As it turned out it hit as 100mph+ straight line winds leveling forests over 400 sq miles. The damage started west of Eagle River, down to Antigo, and in my neighborhood from Townsend down to Suring and beyond. It could be seen from space. It was a brutal storm.

It took a long time just to clear roads and restore power. Hwy 32 was impassable from Suring to Lakewood, and Hwy 64 was closed from 32 to at least Animal’s Bear Trail Inn. ATV trails were closed and impassible, and Oconto Co shut them down while they cleared the way. That took until Labor Day weekend, almost 6 weeks.

There are still forest roads that are blocked with debris. Those and snowmobile only trails will still need cleanup. Thankfully we have a couple of months before trails can open. It would not surprise me if local snowmobile clubs asked for some help clearing trails this fall.

I have to wrap it up for today. I did not get to my very different life situation and plans for this winter or my season predictions. I will have to get back to that.

For now have a good fall season and thank you for visiting!