Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 26, 2013

'Gift' for businesses dependent on winter

Burst of snowfall provides boost in enthusiasm, revenue


TRAVERSE CITY — A gift from Mother Nature.

That's what winter-dependent area business operators called the week's steady snowfall, a burst of weather that gave ski resorts, snowmobilers and winter sports enthusiasts a big boost in enthusiasm and revenue.

"We got a foot and half of snow in the last 48 hours," Rick Schmitt, vice president of sales and marketing at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, said Friday. "We had a powder day (Thursday), which is always fun. It's excellent. It's truly winter out there."

The National Weather Service said other spots in the Grand Traverse region received similar snowfall totals: Kalkaska received 16 inches of snow in the last week. In Traverse City, the number was 12.7 inches of snow since Jan. 17.

A warm-up is on the way by Tuesday. Weather Service Meteorologist Tim Locker said Tuesday's high could reach 40 degrees.

"The lake effect snow should taper off by morning," Locker said.

At Alpers Excavating in Grawn, owner Pat Alpers said the business of plowing, hauling, sanding and salting is steady, thanks to new snow.

"We're happy for it," Alpers said. "We are getting extra calls, usually for someone whose snowblower is broke. The snow keeps us going in the winter."

Jeff Swanson, manager of Don Orr Ski N'Beach Haus, said customers are beaming about the new white stuff.

"Everybody is relieved because the snow is so important to all of us and all of our winter activities: snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross country," Swanson said. "People are saying that they are tolerating the bitter cold because there's snow on the ground."

Locker said the region still remains well below average for winter snow totals. The normal snow amount for this time of year is 55.7 inches, but as of Friday, the tally was just 26.5 inches.

"We haven't had the best lake effect parameters this year, like correct moisture in the atmosphere, the right wind direction and cold temperatures," Locker said.