The sunshine the past 24 hours has been nice, but don’t be fooled -- winter is on the way. Here’s The Ticker’s early guide to winter fun, survival – or escape.
1. This winter will be a typical one: cold and snowy. Tom O’Hare, chief meteorologist at 9&10 News, says that -- despite the Farmer’s Almanac prediction of a harsh winter -- the National Weather Service isn’t forecasting anything extreme, and that northern Michigan should expect “normal winter weather” with snow, cold air, and occasional blizzards.
2. Where does all the snow go? Traverse City streets superintendent Mark Jones says that for snow along downtown streets, the closest and most easily accessible location is between Wellington and Franklin, near the Traverse City Waste Water Plant. For less urgent removal, snow is taken to a location on Airport Access Road, and for very snow-heavy winters, a third site is used on Keystone Road.
County Road Commission manager Jim Cook tells us that the county will be re-doing snowplow routes and starting times for this winter, focusing especially on getting subdivision streets plowed sooner. Cook also reminds subdivision residents not to park on the street between midnight and 8am, and that drivers need to be aware of snowplows on the road.
“They’re like trains,” says Cook. “We want to remind everyone to be safe. Don’t pull out in front of them or tailgate them, because they’re usually going faster than they look.”
3. What’s new at local ski resorts? A lot. This winter, Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire will be offering new rental equipment, additional ski school options, and more mid-day slope grooming. The resort will also have extended hours this year, including late nights on Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm, and an extended season, which is expected to continue until March 31.
At Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, more than $4 million has been invested since last year’s ski season. Improvements include a new Buck Quad Chairlift, recontouring of the Buck ski run, updating snowmaking equipment, and improvements made to dining options inside Crystal Mountain’s main lodge.
Glen Arbor's Homestead Resort will again promote its "ONE" pass, which gives annual ski and snowboarding discounts, as well as the ability to add fitness memberships, spa and salon visits, and more.
At Traverse City’s own Mt. Holiday, there’s plenty new. Stay tuned for a Ticker later this week to read more, but here’s a hint: you’ll be zipping down the hill.
4. What’s going on with Hickory Hills? Hickory Hills Ski Area, operated by Traverse City’s Parks and Recreation Department, is on schedule and will be opened and funded this season. As far as future years go, planning is still up in the air.
“All we know for sure is this season; they’re looking at some different possible operational models for years to come,” says Parks and Recreation superintendent Lauren Vaughn.
Vaughn adds that the city commission will make final approval on this year’s rates on November 4. Weather permitting, opening day is scheduled for December 20; the ski area will be open seven days a week throughout the season.
5. Tired of winter? Head south. Linda Coss, manager at Passageways Travel, says that among locals, the most popular winter getaway locations are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, and cruise vacations. But while most people choose to travel during spring break, Coss says that to get the best deal, focus on vacation times before February 15, and book early.
“It’s all based on availability,” Coss says, “and people always want to get away during the long winter.”