Lack of snow puts damper on Minnesota snowmobile season

Warm weather and a lack of snow is not a happy sight for everyone this winter. And it's essentially shut down snowmobile season.

There is little to no snow on many state trails -- and those are arteries that carry people to many businesses in the state like gas stations, restaurants, resorts, and bars.

Sunday is "meat raffle night" at the Stanchion Bar in Corcoran, Minn. where people come to high-five and drink at the bar along a snowmobile trail.

"The magic of Sunday is the meat raffle," Owner Diane Benson said. "There would be snowmobiles lining up all outside here if there was snow."

But that parking lot is full of cars, rather than sleds. As Benson knows, and we all know, there is not much snow.

Marge Jerdee, treasurer for the Northwest Trails Association, is in charge of keeping trails in Hennepin County and Minneapolis northwest suburbs groomed and safe. Though she said those trails are non-existent.

"They are virtually not here" Jerdee said. "And I would not recommend that anybody that treasurers their sled go out on them right now."

The machine that does all the grooming for the trails has been out for 15 hours this season. Last year, at this time, they used it 24 times more, for 360 hours.

"Even the die-hards that don't care about their sleds are avoiding the trails," Jerdee said.

Snowmobile associations throughout the state tell the same story of trails looking friendlier to bikes than sleds. Sleds used for dreaming more than sledding.

"We polish them up, we dream -- Sleep with a spoon under my pillow hoping for snow," Jerdee said.

And for bars and businesses along those trails, they dream for more on the trails, more in their cash register.

Snowmobilers are still hoping for a decent season. But that would require some heavy snow and cold temperatures to create the 10-inch base they like.

With the season moving against them, they want that in the next few weeks – making it really tough.

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