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Snow-related businesses stay optimistic that snow will come

Chad Nelson, co-owner of Spicer Sports and Marine, is confident that the snow will eventually arrive this winter. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Those new Christmas skis and snowmobile gear are probably still sitting by the tree, waiting to be tried out.

There's no snow in west central Minnesota or most anywhere else in the state. For people whose businesses depend on having snow in the winter, it's been a quiet season so far.

It could be a little while yet. Forecasts for the Tribune area don't hold the promise of measurable snow for the next week.

For the next few days, expect mostly sunny weather with highs mostly in the 30s and lows in the 20s. Temperatures will inch up later in the week, with highs in the 40s forecast for Thursday and Friday. The next chance of snow for the region, according to The Weather Channel's web page, is Jan. 11, when there's a 60 percent of a snow shower.

The dusting of snow on Friday made things look better, but it was too little to make a difference, said Chad Nelson, co-owner of Spicer Sports and Marine. For good riding, snowmobilers need 4 to 6 inches of wet, heavy snow or 6 to 8 inches of light and fluffy snow, he said.

Even when west central Minnesota doesn't have snow, winter recreation enthusiasts can usually head north or west to find it. Not so this year.

"There isn't a lot of snow anywhere in the country," Nelson said.

Still, "we're optimistic for snow," he said. "It's still early in the winter."

The best snowmobiling in Minnesota is usually from mid-January through February, he said, so there's still time.

"It doesn't pay to get too worked up about things we can't control," he said. "We try to diversify so we can manage through these times."

Customers these days are interested in ATVs to ride on lakes and around lakes, he said. Snowmobile sales were strong in the fall, because Arctic Cat came out with new machines to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Clothing sales at the Spicer location have been down a bit, because it hasn't been very cold, Nelson said, but sales at the company's growing online store have been strong.

Snow removal businesses are quiet, too.

Mark Peterson, owner of Rent-a-Guy Home and Lawn Maintenance, said he budgets throughout the year for times like this.

"Last December, we couldn't stay away from the snow," he said. This year, he has more time to tackle the "honey-do" list around his own home and to spend with his kids.

Like Nelson, Peterson said there's no point in worrying about the lack of snow.

"It'll come; it's Minnesota," he said. "It might come all in March. Who knows?"

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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