Mild winter impacts U.P. economy

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 6:37 PM EST
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - The mild weather has considerably shifted the amount of traffic coming into the Upper Peninsula for winter recreation.

The UP is known for its accumulation of snow in the winter. Some years it can build up to 200 inches, but this year is significantly below the average snowfall.

“We’re running probably about 40 to 50 inches behind what we typically would see in a winter up to this point in January,” National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Zika said.

Without snow, Kathy Reynolds, Alger County Chamber of Commerce CEO said, UP businesses take a hit.

“If it’s snowing downstate and it’s not snowing here, they’re going downstate and they’re snowmobiling,” Reynolds said.

Mackinac Bridge service manager, Dean Steiner, said in December 2019, almost 220,956 vehicles crossed the bridge into the UP, but in December 2020 only 180,000 vehicles crossed.

That drop affects small businesses, like Falling Rock Café and Bookstore in Munising. The manager, Heidi Prunick, said the shop is making adjustments so it can stay open.

“We have a lot of different options,” Prunick said. “Call-ins. Walk-ins. We have online ordering. So, we’ve been steady through this whole process in trying to keep everything working on a regular basis.”

Although things have been slow so far for UP businesses, there’s still hope. Reynolds said the peak of the season is the end of January into February.

However, the National Weather Service said the chances of a normal winter are low.

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