(Barrie, ON - December 17, 2015) - Snowmobilers across Ontario are wondering where winter is. The answer is: it’s on the way!
Everyone needs to remember that last winter’s record-setting snowmobiling season started with many parts of Ontario experiencing a rainy melt in mid-December and conditions much like we are experiencing today (although there were some early season riding opportunities last year in Northern Ontario). Then after New Year’s, conditions changed dramatically everywhere and over 95% of OFSC trails quickly became available and stayed available well into late March (some even into early April).
For the past week or so, the burning question eager snowmobilers are asking the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is: “Will there be any snowmobile trails available to ride in Ontario during the 2015 holiday season?”
While Old Man Winter could surprise us at any time, current forecasts indicate it’s unlikely there will be enough snow for any major parts of the 32,000-kilometre OFSC trail system to be available until after New Year’s – same as last year for much of the province. Riders can check current trail status on the Interactive Trail Guide and for safety’s sake, are reminded to stay off any trails showing Red.
So why won’t trails be available? Obviously, Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated yet. But having safe trails available is not only a question of getting fresh snow. With no significant accumulation to date to build on, there is no existing snow base to fill in ground surface irregularities or the cover rocks and stumps on the trails. Packing and grooming of trails by local clubs takes a considerable amount of snow and repeated efforts to make them rideable.
What many riders also forget is that prolonged sub-zero temperatures are even more important than early snow. Freezing temperatures before snow falls, put frost deep into the ground and make good ice, both prerequisites to trails being ready. Otherwise, the earth is too warm to hold snow properly and thousands of swamps, bogs and other low-lying trail areas remain impassable for both groomers and snowmobiles, as is the case throughout this December.
The reality of Ontario snowmobiling is that December is always unpredictable and uncertain – It’s bonus time if cold and snow come early, but it’s also a fact that December is not a reliable indicator of how good the coming winter will be. So let’s all keep the faith by crossing our fingers for cold weather and snow-dancing our brains out for the white stuff – it’s early days yet…and it ain’t over until it’s over!