Early snowfall has snowbirds smiling

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Kayla Bunge
Monday, December 17, 2007

Southern Wisconsin is a snowmobiler’s paradise.

The early-December snow cover has local riders dusting off their sleds and sending them in for tune-ups.

“We’ve definitely been swamped,” said Nikki Roth of A+ Power Sports in Elkhorn. “Our service department is just nonstop.”

The store not only sells snowmobiles and related equipment, but it’s also an authorized agent for snowmobile registration. Roth said sales are up, and the number of registration applications is through the roof.

Although more than 15 inches of snow has fallen to provide a good base, it isn’t what Randy Loch of Maxxx Motorsports in Delavan would call “rider-friendly snow.”

“It’s been a little here, a little there, with ice,” he said. “It’s winter; it’s white, but it’s a little different.”

Loch said despite the less-than-ideal conditions, snowmobile sales and service requests are steady.

“People are planning ahead,” he said. “Winter is here.”

The early snow has heralded excitement from other winter sports enthusiasts. Downhill and cross-country skiers and snowboarders are pulling their gear out of the garage, too.

Scott Schegel of Michael’s Cycles & Fitness in Janesville, which sells snowboards and accessories, said business has picked up thanks to the early snowfall.

“We’ve always had a decent snowboard business. A lot of (boarders) go to resorts where they can make snow,” he said. “But looking outside and seeing snow does help, if anything, to get people in the mood to do it.”

Ice fisherman even are getting out now that ice is safer on some of the area’s smaller lakes.

Brian Gates of Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle in Delavan Township said business has picked up dramatically in the last week. He’s been seeing people out on Delavan Lake, Lake Como and Elkhorn Lake, where fisherman are doing pretty well.

Deputy tourism secretary Mark Richardson said this winter’s early arrival is a boon to outdoor recreation across the state.

“It’s certainly a great start to the season,” he said. “Compared to more recent years, we haven’t gotten as much snow as early as we did this year. People are seeing a nice, fast start to their season.”

Top 10 Snowiest Winters

The highest snowfall totals before Dec. 16, according to Janesville Gazette weather records:

1977: 21.7 inches

1950: 19.5 inches

2000: 18.35 inches

1995: 17.6 inches

2007: 17.01 inches

1990: 14.5 inches

1994: 13.9 inches

1987: 13.02 inches

1951: 12.5 inches

1983: 11.5 inches

Winter conditions

-- Snowmobile trails in Rock County are open. Riders might encounter icy conditions along the trails in the southern half of the county. The trail near Albion is closed because a bridge is out, and the Whitewater trail is closed because of pipeline installation. For updated snowmobile trail conditions in Rock County, call (608) 757-5458.

-- Snowmobile trails in Walworth County remain closed until marking is complete. For updated snowmobile trail conditions in Walworth County, call (262) 742-2664.

-- For information about snow conditions across the state, go to the state tourism department Web site at www.travelwisconsin.com and click on "Winter Snow Report."

-- The area’s smaller lakes are frozen with about four inches of ice, said DNR warden Jason Roberts. Delavan Lake has only about an inch of ice locking it up, and Geneva Lake remains open.

Last updated: 10:54 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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