NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WZMQ) – On February 16th, the NWS told WZMQ more about the weather conditions that ended up canceling the UP200 Sled Dog races.
“The conditions leading up to this week with rain that we saw on Tuesday nearly a half inch and then the flash freeze conditions has really turned everything to a sheet of ice”, said Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Matt Zika.
The first year of the UP 200 was in February of 1990 and the Upper Peninsula was smothered in a blanket of snow even through May. This year, the first time the U.P. has canceled the UP200 due to weather, the winter temperatures have seen higher numbers.
“Historically, if we go back over the last 20 or so years we’ve had some very warm winters and some very warm years and so that’s actually had an impact on the amount of snow cover that we’ve had for the start of the race”, Zika continued.
The sled dog races rely heavily on thick, packed-down snow for the dogs and Mushers to run through. This year, however, with the rainfall accompanied by the sudden drop in temperature, the snow melted into ice. Zika notes the amount of moisture and the already dense pack of snow, doesn’t open any window for the snow to absorb the water, and ends in a result of unsafe race conditions. “We could actually have some rain leading up to the start of the race as long as the temperatures than don’t plummet into the teens and single digits like we saw this time around”, said Zika.