After May snowfall that may rewrite record books, diehard skiers hit Birkie trail
Cross-country skiers were out on the Birkie Trail near Hayward on Friday after a snowstorm that may enter the books as the greatest May snowfall on record for Wisconsin.
Ned Zuelsdorff, executive director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, said he heard about 40 cars were parked Friday at the Highway OO trail crossing, where the Birkie crew groomed about 5 kilometers of trail after a storm dumped well over a foot of snow on the area.
"This is the latest that any grooming has ever been done on that trail," he said. "I think people are getting out there ... just to have skied in May."
Zuelsdorff -- who is retiring as executive director later this month -- said conditions should allow for skiing through the weekend, as long as forecast light rain showers don't erode the snow too much. He said there was about as much snow on the trail Friday as there was for February's Birkebeiner, the annual race from Cable to Hayward that draws thousands of skiers. A key difference, though, was that there was a much more solid, packed base of snow in February.
Initial snowfall reports from late Wednesday through late Thursday included about 16 inches in the Hayward, Ashland and Mellen areas. Snow continued to fall into Friday in those areas, potentially adding to those totals.
To the south, a weather spotter near Rice Lake reported 17 inches of snow. Along the Mississippi River near Stockholm, Wis., a spotter reported 17.7 inches of snow from the storm.
While the snow reports still have to be checked and verified, it appears that some locations in Wisconsin will enter the record books with the new record for greatest May snowfall. According to the National Weather Service, previous May snow records for Wisconsin included:
The National Weather Service reported that this week's storm may have set a May snowfall record for Minnesota, too.
While Northeastern Minnesota largely escaped the snow, weather spotters in parts of southeastern Minnesota reported snowfall of 14 to 15 inches.
According to the Weather Service, the current record daily snowfall for May is 12 inches, set three times -- at St. Cloud on May 17, 1890; Windom on May 8, 1938; and near Leonard in northwestern Minnesota on May 3, 1954.
The level of the Montreal River at Hurley, which rose from recent snowmelt and caused two bridges to be closed earlier in the week, was down about 2 feet on Friday from its peak on Wednesday, according to Wisconsin emergency management officials.
South of Hurley, the waters of Pine Lake in the town of Oma rose about 15 inches on Friday, causing some flooding concerns.
Water levels on the Bad River in Ashland County and the St. Louis River in Carlton County continued to fall on Friday.
Minor flooding continued along the Mississippi River near Aitkin.
St. Louis County officials reported Friday that road conditions are improving as water levels drop from recent snowmelt-related flooding.
Only four county roads remained closed Friday:
Eleven other county roads have water on the roadway, but are considered passable and remained open with signs posted Friday.
County crews will continue to monitor roads over the weekend.