Unusually tame weather forecast to return this week continues to cause major bumps for snowmobiling’s estimated $25 million economic impact in Oneida County, but is not expected to put any further damper on the Boonville Snow Festival this weekend.
"It still looks promising....We’re still 100 percent ready to go," David S. Ernst, a member of the snow festival board of directors, said this morning of the event that recently was divided into two weekends because of lack of snow.
Snowmaking equipment that operated over the past few days at the Oneida County fairgrounds site of the festival has generated a sufficient "stockpile" of snow that should be enough even if affected by some rainfall this week, said Ernst. Rain was predicted at least through tonight.
Among activities planned Saturday and Sunday is East Coast Snocross Racing, while ice oval racing and a parade are among various attractions for the festival’s second weekend on Feb. 10-12. The entire event originally had been scheduled for Thursday through Sunday before the ongoing low snowfall took a toll.
Meanwhile, the light accumulation this winter has "definitely" affected the typical economic boost from snowmobiling, said Oneida County Tourism President Kelly Blazosky and Jim Rolf, a trail coordinator for the New York State Snowmobile Association and past president of the Oneida County Snowmobile Association. "It’s unfortunate," Rolf said of the weather’s effect that has cut into snowmobiler-related spending which translates to revenues for area restaurants, hotels and gas stations. He considers the county’s $25 million economic impact figure from state studies to be a "conservative" total.
Rolf and Blazosky could not immediately estimate percentage declines in the impact so far this season. But Blazosky noted that "people are calling every day," asking "‘what are your conditions?’" and "still asking for new maps" of trails. When further significant snowfall does come, she remarked, "we may have a very short and intense season." Many but not all trails are open in the northern part of the county, said Rolf, while many trails are not open in the southern section where less snow is in place.
The forecast, which called for highs today to approach the upper 40s, predicts that some isolated snow showers will join rain showers after midnight, with little or no snow accumulation. Temperatures are expected to approach 40 Tuesday and cool off slightly to the low-to-upper 30s through Friday; mixes of snow and rain are predicted.
For the Boonville Snow Festival, the snow that recently was made has been left in a stockpile "all in one area," said Ernst, explaining the expectations are that "if it does rain...we’ll still keep most of the snow." Further snowmaking likely would not occur this week, based on weather conditions, he said.
Assisting in the snow buildup are Boonville village and town municipal staffers who have brought in some cleared snow such as from roadways or lots, Ernst. Such snow may help make "snow bleachers" for spectators, he added.
The weather should be "spectator-friendly" this weekend, said Ernst, and "we expect a good turnout." The extended forecast is for highs in the mid-30s Saturday and mid-20s Sunday, with a chance of snow showers both days.