The mild weather Minnesota is having is certainly an antidote to years past, but it has winter businesses and enthusiasts across the state rattled.
Resort areas that rely on ice fishing, skiing and other winter pursuits are fearful of a lean winter as it's mid-December and the state hasn't seen snow stick to the ground for any reasonable length of time, with the El Niño phenomenon helping keep temperatures above freezing during daylight.
The Pioneer Press reports while ski resorts in the north of the state can rely on manmade snow, the area's snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails are "essentially non-existent."
The newspaper notes the week between Christmas and New Year's is one of the busiest for winter outdoor enthusiasts. Mille Lacs Lake ice fishing businessman Eddie Lyback said they are usually "booked solid," but is now seeing most bookings being made for after Jan. 1.
"These conditions are anywhere from once every 20 years to once ever, well, never, based on our records (dating back to the 1930s)," Minnesota DNR climatologist Pete Boulay told the paper.
In the Twin Cities, WCCO says all winter pursuits are on hold for now, with Jamie Neldner of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation saying: "It has to be in the mid- to low-20s for about a week to 10 days in order to accumulate to the standard for cross-country skiing, tubing and snowshoeing."
Paavo Taipale, of St. Paul Central High School Nordic Ski, says multiple races have already been canceled and the school team has been finding it hard to practice. "It's already pretty bad, it's probably some of the worst we've ever had," he said.
The Star Tribune reports skaters hoping for some pond hockey action have also been disappointed, noting Minneapolis only opens up rinks once the city has had at least three to four nights of below-freezing weather, which usually occurs during November.
It's still too early to see if the mild weather will have any impact on the ice caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, with the newspaper noting the lake usually doesn't reach its maximum ice cover until March.
Snow, cold on the way
But there is hope on the horizon for those relying on winter for income and recreation.
">National Weather Service is predicting a large area of central and western Minnesota will get a decent dump of snow on Wednesday, with up to 5 inches possible in the St. Cloud and Alexandria areas.
The Pioneer Press notes temperatures will also start to fall this week, with business owners hoping it will "lock the lakes in" and provide a sustained blanket of snow.
According to Accuweather, the Twin Cities is more likely to see sleet than snow on Wednesday, though daytime temperatures could fall to around 20 this Friday.