April 23, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 95

Seasons clash

There’s a hint of spring in the forecast, just not early in the week.

Gary Jackson photo
JOSHUA HEGMAN catches Lake Superior waves on his surfboard at Little Girl’s Point, north of Ironwood, on Saturday.

The National Weather Service was predicting an 80 percent chance of up to 11 inches of snow today, with a high of only 37.

Warmer weather’s predicted for Friday, with a high of around 50, and Sunday’s high will be around 66, with a chance of thunderstorms. The following Monday’s high is forecast to dip to 46, however.

Recreational trolling boats were able to get out onto Lake Superior out of Saxon Harbor over the weekend, although there was still quite a bit of floating ice to dodge in the marina.

A surfer even hit the beach at Little Girl’s Point on Saturday afternoon, when the waves dashed high from strong winds.

The Ironwood Public Safety Department received a Thursday snowmobiling complaint on Sutherland Street and a Saturday Cloverland Drive snowplowing complaint.

On Friday night, the IPSD was advised cars couldn’t make the Bonnie Location hill and they were backing down, causing problems.

The 15.5 inches of snow that fell on Ironwood through Saturday morning brought the season’s total to 198.4 inches, so the 200-inch mark is in reach. Much of the latest snowfall melted with strong winds on Sunday,

April’s 34.7 inches of snow falls short of the 100-year April record of 43 inches set in 1928.

With deer and birds struggling to find food, the late arrival of spring is wreaking havoc with Mother Nature.

Perhaps the only advantage of 13 inches of snow on the ground so late in April is no danger of wildfires. April 21-27 is Wildfire Prevention Week in Michigan.

The Department of Natural Resources stresses the importance of preventing wildfires “when consistent spring-like weather finally arrives.”

Bill O’Neill, chief of the MDNR’s Forest Resources Division notes late April and early May are the most prevalent time for large wildfires.

Careless debris burning is the source of most wildfires across Michigan.

Upper Peninsula residents can obtain free burning permits online at michigan.gov/burnpermit. Those without Internet access can call 866-922-2876, toll-free, to obtain permits.

Out of about 500 fires the MDNR responded to in 2012, two-thirds were caused by negligence.

Tough on deer

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials warned Monday the long winter is challenging Upper Peninsula deer herds.

Although early winter snow was mild and there wasn’t much severe weather until late December, deep snow well into spring is expected to lead to deer mortalities and lower fawn recruitment rates than in the past few years.

Mild winters, such as those from 2010-’12, provide favorable conditions for good survival and allow pregnant does to produce healthy fawns, the DNR’s Terry Minzey said.

Harsh winters, with deep snow, restrict deer movement and cause the animals to burn up energy reserves, resulting in additional stress on pregnant does.

Minzey said this season’s snow depths through January were below average, but heavy precipitation in February and March left deep snows across the peninsula and those conditions have extended well into April.

“Biologists anticipate negative impacts to the deer herd when winter conditions persist longer than three months. Because of the heavy late-winter snowfall, U.P. deer are showing visible signs of winter fatigue, including thin body conditions and lethargic behavior. Biologists are already receiving reports of deer mortalities and additional reports are anticipated in the coming weeks,” Minzey said.

The U.P. deer population experienced a low in 2009 following two consecutive harsh winters.

“Although it is too early to determine the full impact of this year’s winter, biologists expect deer population growth will at least slow this year, given the conditions,” Minzey said.