Groomer and Snow Update February 2015

Posted:Saturday 7th February 2015 15:59

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 In the past ten days, we have finally received snow after almost not a flake for most of January.  The arrival of this snow has meant the snowmobile season has finally began for all areas of the Island.  Unfortunately the amount of snow we have received in a very short time has not been as much of a blessing as we would think.  It has led to problems that we do not normally see. With 150+ cm of snow in such a short time, we have equipment struggling to get through the trail system.

The PEISA has a very dedicated group of people who give their time by marking trails, installing signage, visiting private land owners for access to their property, trimming trees, operating groomers, and many other activities to help make everything work as smooth as possible.  Nobody willingly signs up to be a volunteer that has to shovel stuck groomers for three hours, walk over a mile to a road to be picked after being in a stuck groomer for 7 or 8 hours waiting for morning so an excavator can come and haul him and the groomer out.  Nobody believes they are going to have to run a groomer for over 24 consecutive hours on a section of trail that normally takes 12 to 14 hours, but these are just some of the obstacles we are facing, on top of the significant snowfall we are receiving every 48 hours.

 The saddest part of this situation is that the trails are just not going to be opened or groomed as soon as we all would like them to be.  With the exception of storm time and mild temperatures, these groomers have been going almost continuous for the past 9 days.  When we received our first blizzard on Tuesday and Wednesday Jan 27-28, most groomers were finishing up trails, the next snow came on Friday-Saturday Jan 30-31. These first two snowfalls seemed to bring more snow to the western end of Island and left the east still lacking.   On Saturday Jan 31 after the snow had stopped, it turned mild everywhere and none of the groomers were able to do any grooming until Sunday Feb 1st.  Everyone worked hard to get trails opened and passable before the next snowfall that came on Monday-Tuesday, February 2nd and 3rd .  This time, the east and Charlottetown got hit harder with the areas receiving 67cm and with blizzard conditions.  After that storm, you could find either 0 inches in open areas and in some cases 12 foot high drifts and banks.  Once again all areas started grooming as soon as it was possible on Tuesday afternoon.  Most areas were able to get over their trails for at least one pass with either the groomer alone or with a compactor.  One exception was in the Morell/St.Peter’s area where one of the groomers was stuck for over 16 hours and the operator was forced to wait through the night before we were able to get a local contractor to bring in an excavator to get him freed up from the 10 foot high bank he was caught up on.  The next storm arrived on Thursday Feb 5th, the east had blowing and drifting snow well into the afternoon.  After this storm was over all groomers were out again as soon as the conditions allowed.  Once again they were dealing with large banks, drifts, and deep snow.  Most groomers are now just doing their best to bust open trails and in some cases they are not able to use their drag but they are doing their best to get the trails opened up as quickly as possible.

 To summarize, in the past 10 days (Jan 27 to Feb 5) most of the Island has received between 75 and 100 cms of snow.  That snowfall also brought with it four days of stormy conditions.  At the most, we only had two part days between storms to try and groom before the next snowfall began.  No area has been able to get their trails into the shape that they want them to be.   Now, it looks like we may have a 3 or 4 day window before the next dumping of snow is expected .  I know for sure that everyone involved in grooming operations are working as hard as they possibly can to provide everyone with good trails.

  We would like to THANK all snowmobilers for having patience as we all try to make the best of receiving a winter’s snowfall in 10 days. 

 PS  If you are out snowmobiling and you see signs buried in deep snow please take a moment if you can and move snow away from the sign, because “signs do save lives”

 Thank you

Prince Edward Island Snowmobile Association

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