BY ART BUKOWSKI
TRAVERSE CITY — Area residents pleased by a recent burst of highly unseasonable weather shouldn’t expect it to return anytime soon, meteorologists said.
The temperature climbed to 64 degrees in Traverse City on Monday, tying the all-time December record set exactly 50 years earlier on Dec. 3, 1962. And, the high on a sunny Tuesday was close to 50 degrees, well above a normal of 36 degrees.
But cold was expected to return Wednesday, and the early-week warm spell shouldn’t be considered an indicator of the winter to come, Gaylord-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Tim Locker said.
“It’s actually projected to be a normal winter with average snowfall totals,” he said.
Those in Locker’s line of work look to the Pacific Ocean for clues as to what the upcoming winter will bring. He said temperatures in the Pacific aren’t projected to be much higher or lower — phenomenons called “El Niño” or “La Niña, respectively — than normal. La Niña generally brings harsher winters, while its counterpart brings milder winters.
“That’s one of the main indicators, and right now the index is neutral,” Locker said.
Eric Bare is a manager at Kalkaska-based Lakes & Trails Power Sports, which deals in snowmobiles. Kalkaska had a batch of snow on the ground for a while but it was all gone by the weekend. Bare was glad to see temperatures projected to drop again.
“The general consensus is if there’s not snow on the ground by Christmas, our season’s over,” he said, referring to snowmobile dealers. “So far, sales haven’t been great, but they’ve been fair.”
After last winter’s meager snowfall totals provided plenty of problems for snowmobilers, Bare hopes to see more of the white stuff this year.
“You always hope that winter is coming,” he said. “After last year, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that this year is going to be better.”
The recent warm spell didn’t make Tom Kramer nervous, but it’s still not what he likes to see this time of year. Kramer, a spokesman for Crystal Mountain ski resort near Thompsonville in southern Benzie County, said his outfit continues to make snow whenever possible in hopes of opening soon.
“We do the best we can with what mother nature deals us,” he said. “We are patiently waiting for the overnight temperatures to get cold enough so we can turn the guns back on.”
Monday was warm, but periodic rain put a damper on the record high temperature. Bikers, pedestrians and others took advantage of Tuesday’s cooler but otherwise gorgeous weather.
Friends George Hays and Willow Goss took Goss’ young son Niko to F&M Park in Traverse City under sunny skies Tuesday afternoon.
“I love this,” Goss said. “I’d like summertime all year long.”
Plenty of people in northern Michigan love winter activities, but with weather like that, those can wait.
“I’ve got ski passes at Boyne and Holiday Hills, but I’d still take it like this,” Hays said, laughing.
Snow or shine, Goss won’t complain.
“I grew up in northern Michigan, so I’ll take what I can get,” she said. “I’ll be ready for whatever’s coming.”