Michigan Winter Drives Tourism, Slows Road Repairs

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This time last year we were warning you not to jump the gun when it comes to getting your garden ready because it was so warm out.

It's a much different story this March 19 with blowing snow and temperatures in the teens just a day before the official start of spring.

This weather has been both a blessing and a curse depending on who you ask.

At Hawk Island Snow Park in South Lansing almost anyone you ask feels it's a blessing. Snowboarders want this weather to stick around as long as possible.

"This has been like the best winter I can remember in a long time,' snowboarder and Hawk Island employee Tyler May said. "I love the fact that it's snowing so much."

The state's tourism industry loves it, too. The folks at Pure Michigan said they've seen record high hotel occupancy, and they're happy to have four seasons again. The Director of Ingham County Parks feels the same way.

"Our visitation is up dramatically because of the snowfall," Ingham County Parks Director Willis Bennett said. "We've had several weekends of cross country skiing, a lot better than we've had in the last couple of years.'

While people say they enjoyed a real Michigan winter, they're ready to put away their parkas.

"Those few days of warm weather were kind of a tease," Meghan Van Wormer said as she walked to lunch in downtown Lansing. "So, I think I'm ready for shorts and flip flops and summer."

Those few days of warm weather also got our road crews' hopes up, and now made their jobs even tougher.

"It's that back and forth freezing and thawing," Ingham County Road Commissioner Bill Conklin said. "It really plays havoc with the potholes."

The frequent snowfalls mean some pothole repairs have been delayed. Crews are still plowing instead of patching, and that has Lansing's Director of Public Services Chad Gamble anxious, especially with funds running low.

"I am a little nervous at how long winter is hanging on," Gamble said. "There doesn't look like there will be that much money left over because we have had a decent winter compared to the last couple of years."

Those temperatures of the past have some people avoiding the current weather and roads all together.

"I'm just coming back from Miami and I wish I was still there," Lansing resident Armando Rositas said.

Snow activities at Hawk Island should stay open through March.

Road crews are patching whenever weather permits.

They hope to make the full switch to spring maintenance by April.

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