With 2024 here, things are only starting to look and feel like winter in the area. October brought some early snow which had snowmobilers in the area optimistic about a lengthy season. But after temperatures that were well above average in November and December, most machines have remained parked while their owners wait for some more snow.

Club Snow grooms many of the trails in our area and President Doug Atchison says people are itching to get out but he adds more snow is needed before that happens.

"We like to say that we need at least a foot of snow on the ground. With our winds, we end up with a lot more snow in ditches, whereas across the fields it can be bare, that's where we need it. We need a base and it's great that it's snowing a bit this week. Hopefully, by the weekend, we can get out and start riding on our trails to pack the snow down so that we can make a base for our grooming machines to go along and make the official trail. One big dump certainly does help. It gets more people excited about it. When you only get a little bit like we've been getting in the last couple of weeks,  you're all excited that it's going to snow and then it only snows about a centimeter."

The latest Environment Canada forecast shows the potential for light snow Tuesday night into Wednesday with around 2 centimeters expected by the end of the day. Some more snow is expected Wednesday night into Thursday and Friday night as well. Atchison comments that if enough falls, they are ready to go.

"We're prepared to get the trails all marked as soon as we get a decent amount of snow. We have a great group that just works so hard putting out signs, making signs, things like that. But of course, we can always use more. Anybody who would like to become a member, it's easy to do. Just come on our Facebook site. It's fairly self-explanatory."

Atchison adds that snowmobilers should also avoid the major rivers in the area and it's not only because of the mild temperatures we've had so far this winter. According to Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure's Hydrologic Forecast Centre, the Red River has risen significantly in southern Manitoba as the result of considerable precipitation south of the border over Christmas. This water makes its way into other rivers in the area as well and can make things unstable and unpredictable as far as ice thickness is concerned.

signsThe trail signs are ready to put out if mother nature co-operates