Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving all about family, food and weather

Gratitude, travel plans and feasting take center stage


TRAVERSE CITY — This Thanksgiving, Dawn Anderson will cook for her family, in part to let them know she can still do it.

"I had throat cancer and this is the first year I'll be back at it," she said. "At one point, it took me an hour just to eat the mashed potatoes."

Anderson was behind the sales counter at Petertyl's Drug & Gift Center in downtown Traverse City. She rang up an energy drink for Jared Miller, 28, who interjected he had a lot to be thankful for.

"I smoked for 10 years, and I was on my 30th day of quitting, when I came down to buy a pack of smokes. She talked me out of it," he said, gesturing to Anderson. "It's so awesome. I don't have to stand outside and smoke anymore."

Folks interviewed Tuesday shared their thoughts of gratitude, travel plans, and feasting. Morgan Makowski, 26, said she plans to go Thanksgiving hopping.

"I'm stopping by at two friends' before I go to my boss' Thanksgiving dinner," said Makowski, who appreciated the invitations.

Those who might be short on gratitude on Thanksgiving Day might want to step outside and give thanks for the sun and warm temperatures that could reach 60 degrees.

But don't be tricked by the balmy temperatures. Winter will blow in on Friday with a sharp drop to the low-40s with brisk winds and some lake effect snow, said Gaylord-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Rozanski.

Weekend temperatures will drop into the 30s for daytime highs with scattered snow showers, he said.

This is the fourth consecutive November with mild weather, no snow, and a blustery Black Friday that ushers in winter, he said.

Rozanski predicted normal snowfall this year.

Ski resort managers hope so. They retain painful memories of last winter's paltry snowfall, which measured 63.4 inches, 25 inches below normal, said Rozanski.

But lower weekend temperatures won't fall far enough to let ski resorts make snow.

"The magic snow-making temperature is 28 degrees. We typically shoot to open on Thanksgiving weekend, but there would have to be drastic changes in the forecast for that to happen," said Erin Ernst, director of communications for Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs and Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls.

Snow-making guns are ready at Mt. Holiday Ski Resort on Holiday Road, but they won't be fired up until both the temperature and humidity drop, said Michelle Konstanzer, the resort's food and beverage director.

"With this moist, wet and damp weather, it would be like putting cotton candy in the sink," Konstanzer said. "Mother Nature is a really hard boss to work for, and she's not giving us very good conditions right now."

Snow making at Mt. Holiday is hampered by humidity from East Grand Traverse and West Grand Traverse bays, said Theresa Galante, Mt. Holiday's executive director.

"The bays are really beautiful to look at, but not great for ski resorts," Galante said. "Last year, the resort that stood in the best spot of all was Nub's Nob. It has one of the best snow makers in the state, probably in the Northwest region."

Nub's Nob General Manager Jim Bartlett conceded he takes snow making seriously, but tries not to sweat the forecast.

"You just get as ready as you can, so you can really get going when the temperature drops. That's one thing we do very aggressively is make snow. We have a lot of snow guns, so when it does get cold, we can get rocking."

Galante said her best guess for opening day at Mt. Holiday is December 15; the worst case scenario would be one week later.