Chief Meteorologist Justin Liles' 2017-18 Winter Forecast

Justin Liles
November 10, 2017 05:45 PM

Early snowfall here in the Northland has many people feeling optimistic about this winter.  However, Northland business have had to re-think the way they do business because of how difficult the last few winters have been.

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Scott Neustel is the owner fo the ski hut in Duluth.  He says people call him the snow farmer because he is always waiting on his crop.  Snow!  He says business the last two few years have been rough.  Even Spirit Mountain has felt the pain.

"The last two winter have been very challenging, says Brandy Ream Executive Director of Spirit Mountain.  It's been two of the worst seasons in the Midwest as far as Midwest skiing goes."

Why so bad?  Last winter was the 13th wettest on record but it was also the 14th warmest on record, so many days were rain instead of snow.

"With all the rain we've had in the winter, says Neustel, its freezing the trails and has been a major challenge."

Its not just the trails.  Spirit Mountain employs over 300 people and winter snow is pivotal for maintaining those jobs.  Ream says everybody is a little pent up and they're ready for what could be a more traditional Minnesota Winter.  What is a traditional Minnesota winter.  We average 80" of snowfall a year.  Last year we got 60". The year before we got our 80" but once again it was ruined by rain and three years ago he saw the 8th driest winter on record.  Only 42" of snow.

"Most people who live in Duluth want to see a white winter.  They want to get out on their skis or snowboard and have fun.  There hasn't been any enthusiasm for that since 2013", says Scott.  That's because the winter of 2013-2014 brought us 131" of snow.  Part of the reason for all the snow that year was the Polar Vortex and much colder air hanging around to squeeze out any moisture that was available.  Another possible reason would be Lake Superior.

In years when Lake Superior has ended the ended the summer above average in water levels, the following winter we tend to see lots of snow.  This summers water level ended at 603 ft.  The last time the lake saw that much water was in 1196-1997 when we got 128" of snow.  So with high water levels on the big lake. This year I'm going with over 120" of snow, which has area business thrilled.

"People are long overdue, especially for those of us that are in to winter sports," says Brandy Ream.


Justin Liles

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