DNR warns snowmobilers of UP trail hazards
Feb. 27, 2019
UPPER PENINSULA — Blizzard conditions that ripped through parts of the Upper Peninsula Sunday have created numerous hazards for snowmobilers across parts of five counties.
The storm crippled travel for motorists, with nearly 20 inches of snow dumped over some parts of Marquette County and higher amounts registered farther north in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Winds that surpassed 60 mph were clocked along the Lake Superior shoreline. Highway travel along M-28 between Marquette and Munising was shut down, while heavy loads of snow collapsed some rooftops.
“The Sunday blizzard has adversely impacted snowmobile trails throughout the north central and western U.P.,” said Rob Katona, Michigan Department of Natural Resources central U.P. trails specialist. “Heavy snowfall, combined with strong gusty winds, have created snow drifts 8 feet deep and higher, with numerous trees downed throughout the trail system.”
Areas hardest hit include the snowmobile trails located in Marquette, Baraga, Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw counties.
Snowmobile clubs are clearing drifts and downed trees with grooming tractors.
“However, many are not pulling their drags that create the smooth, groomed trail surface until they have cleared all the drifts and debris,” Katona said. “Some areas may not be cleared and groomed until late this week or over the weekend.”
Until trails are cleared, riders should expect to encounter deep snow, downed trees and rough trail conditions, with some trail segments impassable, especially in open areas.
DNR conservation officers conducted several search and rescues Sunday after riders buried sleds in drifts along trails.
“Snowmobilers who are inexperienced in riding in deep snow conditions are strongly encouraged to avoid the areas hardest hit, in favor or riding in the southern portion of the U.P., where the weather was not as severe and abundant snowfall this season has produced great trail conditions,” Katona said.
For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.