Vinerism strikes the snowmobiling industry

From the same sort of Dr. David Viner mindset that brought us “Snowfall will be a thing of the past” comes this teary-eyed missive:

Snowobiling could be hard hit by climate change, new study says



According to a study recently made public, Vermont’s $600 million snowmobiling industry could be hard hit by climate change. CREDIT Bear Cieri

Declining snowfall in Vermont, a likely byproduct of a warming climate, is sure to negatively affect the state’s $600 million snowmobile industry. New research provides a sobering look at just how much.

A significant part of Vermont’s snowmobiling appeal lies in its interlocking network of trails, which allow snowmobilers to cover large geographic areas, said Robert Manning, a natural resources professor at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study, which is based on an online survey of 1,450 members of VAST, the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, in November and December 2015. VAST members live both in and out of the state.

The survey results were presented at a meeting of the Northeast Recreation Research Symposium in Annapolis, Maryland on April 4.

“If connections between trails are lost, even if there’s sufficient snow cover in pockets of the state, participation rates could decline sharply,” he said.

Once the percentage of Vermont trails that are open drops below about 65 percent, snowmobilers will begin to stay home, according to the survey. With about half the trails open, participation would drop 25 percent. With 10 percent open, the participation rate would decline by 75 percent.

Another troubling fact to emerge: 70 percent of snowmobilers surveyed said they began their snowmobile rides from their homes, a convenience that relies on good snow cover. 31.2 percent reported that having to drive to snowmobile trails would detract “a great deal” from the experience.

Days of snow cover were also a significant detractor; with fewer than 75 days of cover, participation rates began to decline. With 25 days, rates would decline by 50 percent.

Snow decline in Vermont is likely, given past history and projected temperature increases

Declining snowfall in Vermont at the normal elevations of most snowmobile trails has already occurred and is likely to continue in coming years.

During the 1960s, the average snow depth for winter (December to February) was six inches, according the statistics compiled by the National Weather Service at the Burlington International Airport, but has been closer to four inches during the last decade, the lower limit for snowmobiling. Over the past two decades (from 1995 to 2014), Vermont has experienced the highest winter temperatures observed in the historical record, according to the National Climate Assessment Summary for Vermont.

Vermont’s temperatures are projected to rise by another 2 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, according to the Vermont Climate Assessment, making further diminution of average snow depth likely.

“The repercussions of climate change on Vermont’s snowmobile industry could be significant,” said Manning. “Even modest declines in participation could affect the VAST budget and, potentially, the organizations’ ability to maintain trails.”

Regular grooming of trails was one of the most significant factors survey respondents cited as defining a quality snowmobiling experience.

“Given the importance of the snowmobile industry as an economic driver, in Vermont and elsewhere,” Manning said, “this one more reason why we need to do all we can to address the challenge of climate change.”


82 thoughts on “Vinerism strikes the snowmobiling industry

  1. So we need to protect an industry that produces CO2 and pollution to prevent it from succumbing to global warming caused by CO2 and pollution? Huh?

  2. But wait, shouldn’t the Green Lobby be driving snowmobiles out of existence? They’re noisy, and disturb the solitude of nature, they produce CO2, and other noxious gasses, and many of their drivers simply use them as a convenient means to get from one bar to the next.
    But when it comes to an economic impact on the enlightened citizens of Vermont, (same ones that gave us Bernie, “I want to have an economy like Finland” Sanders), all bets are off.

    • No there not all of those things. That’s what the green lobby says about snowmobiling to raise money.

  3. Where is their evidence that Vermont will experience ” 2 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 ” ?? Maybe a little Bernie told them !

  4. But I thought the current line is that global warming – via the Arctic ice melt – leads to more snow rather than less. Either I can’t keep up, or these people have trouble keeping their stories aligned.

    • … but shouldn’t the graph/data start in 1965; and anything over 119 inches should be considered a likely error due to extremely fluffy snow (global-climate-change-warming causes this kind of thing ya know), and adjusted downward appropriately.

    • Yeah, big news in Vermont and New Hampshire… They’d celebrate if there was a breath of truth in the claim.
      A couple of friends and some relatives have been moving or threatening to move from Vermont and New Hampshire to the South.
      We hosted one family of relatives not too long ago, unfortunately in winter. While we made a good case for moving to Virginia, the cold front that rolled South while they were here convinced them that they want to live in South Carolina; or maybe further South.
      A close friend did not take a snowfall joke well when I suggested we had extra snow they could have. His response was something about never seeing another snowflake again, ever. He’s too much of a canoeist to seriously consider leaving New Hampshire, but he wasn’t a happy camper mid winter.
      Great chart PA!

    • Their quote about recent snowfall depths is “according the statistics compiled by the National Weather Service at the Burlington International Airport” the last decade has averaged 4″. Airports are built from tarmac, a heat sink. Therefore, one would expect that the snow depths might be lower at an airport than in the rest of the state. It was unclear if the authors were comparing the airport snow depths in the 1960s with the last decade, however it they were, they forgot to include any changes at Burlington International Airport which occurred over the past 50 years.
      The authors of this paper are from the Vermont Climate Assessment. The first paragraph on their homepage reads as follows:
      “Climate change is no longer a thing of the future; it is affecting Vermont today. The Vermont Climate Assessment (VCA) presents information to help prepare for the impacts and opportunities from Vermont’s fast-changing climate—while noting the potential costs of inaction.”
      They explain how they do their research:
      “What are the Assessment’s data and methods?
      The authors collected and analyzed data from over 175 scientific studies, interviews with local and state government officials, academics NGOs, businesses, and farmers and observational data from formal sources such as the National Weather Service and from citizen scientists, such as the Joe’s Pond Association Ice-Out observations. Historical climate data was supplied by NOAA and the National Weather Service with expert input from Andy Nash, Meterologist-in-Charge at the Burlington office of the National Weather Service. Projections of future climate change are supplied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and refer to computer models from the Couple Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). These models represent a range of scenarios from low to high global greenhouse gas emissions and other aspects of atmospheric and global change.”
      What I could not find on their website was the source of their funding. Since their is not request for donations that I could find on their website, they must be receiving adequate funding.

      • ur probably right … and since I get in trouble when snowmobiling across the airport runways, I don’t care how much (less) snow there is at the airports.

  5. Burlington is a rather low part of the state. More mountainous areas get a lot more snow than Burlington. The differences are so great, both in Vermont and the rest of New England that I’ve concluded that snow fall and “snow depth days” (like heating degree days – sum the morning snow depth for throughout the winter) are useless for determining the course of the local climate.
    Yes, this winter sucked. Last winter didn’t. New England weather is like that.

  6. It’s a little-known fact that in Ancient Etruscan, “University” means “a useless collection of conceited wankers.”

    • jorgekafkazar,
      In US English, a ‘university’ is “a government subsidized, intolerant .edu factory parroting the latest politically correct pablum.”

      • 1400 members of VAST and 31% said that having to drive to ride would detract “a great deal” from the experience? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
        Maybe those spoiled little snowmobile riders will have to evolve…it’s the natural thing to do. People in other states don’t have the luxury of snowmobiling off their property, so they buy trailers and haul their machines to their beautiful cabins and stay for weeks playing in the snow, riding snowmobiles, skiing, hot tubbing, and getting drunk!
        Odd…VAST isn’t even listed on the American Council of Snowmobile site. In fact, Vermont has no groups listed. Wonder why Robert Manning only surveyed that one group?

      • The problem Aphen is this: People who drive from home are more correctly known as “snow machiners” whereas those who can only drive after ferrying by trailer are known by the more common term. It would indeed be a bitter pill for the snow machiners if they had to become the other type 🙂

        • I’m sorry, but people who get to ride snow machines/mobiles anytime, anywhere, I just call DARN LUCKY. One of the best things ever invented!!!

    • jorgekafkazar,
      It’s also a little-know fact that “University” is the antonym of “Diversity” and means a single culture of thought, belief and action. It’s adherents are readily recognized by their closed eyes (and minds), hands clapped over ears and the singing of la, la, la, la, la la. 😉

  7. Get ready for another year 2000 winter there and at a number of other places. You have maybe a couple years to tune up the equipment and make additional plans.

  8. So climate alarmists are now worried about a fossil fuel driven industry – snowmobiling – going under because of climate change? Shouldn’t they be ecstatic about it? FFS!

  9. The question that Dr. Viner doesn’t bother addressing is — that if reduced snowfall is caused by increased CO2, if actions are taken to decrease CO2, how long will it take for snowfall amounts to return to normal.

    • On the other hand, the golf season will be extended, and so will the season for all other balmy weather activities. So, what’s the concern here?

  10. So one bad (probably El Nino induced) winter and it’s doom and gloom? Don’t these guys remember the two years before that when we were up to our hips in the stuff? I’d love to hear Caleb (Sunrise Swansong) weigh in on this, because there was plenty on his blog about the lack of snow/early melt this year, and the terrible winter we had before that. Its also worth remembering that a 2 degree rise in the winter is the difference between -20C and -18C – not going to make much difference to the snow and ice, except maybe cause more precipitation (which will fall as guess what).
    When it gets colder, its just weather, when it gets warmer its a climate catastrophe – make up your minds, warmists…

  11. We get a lot less snow here in Wisconsin than we used to. Back in the day we used “sleds” instead of cars most all winter. Not now. The snowmobile industry has been hammered. On the other hand, Colorado seems to be getting more than when I lived there. Go figure. Think it might have something to do with weather or maybe a selective memory. Doubt it’s climate. In any event, please don’t put up a chart. I don’t want to know.

      Michigan Tech snowfall records back to the 1800s.
      If you go back to the early 20th century the current snowfall is about 50% higher. It is less than the 70s. The late 60s and 70s were an anomaly.
      Publishing a snowfall graph going back to the 1880s or 1900 that shows a decline would help the argument. But I’m not holding my breath.

      • I grew up in the UP in the 50’s-60’s and there were many years when the snowfall was +250 inches. This year they are just shy of 200 inches. Started on Halloween and those 14 foot snowbanks didn’t melt until May. Snow shoveling was a required class. Everywhere I’ve lived since has had snow (currently CO) but nothing like that.

      • Rocdoctom, directly above your comment (re 250 inches of snow “many years” in the 50s/60s in the UP) is a link to actual snowfall data for the UP (measured in Houghton). The data shows plus-250 inches of snow in only two years during those decades: 1950-51, and 1964-65. And it shows many years with a lot less; e.g., 1953-54: 117 inches; 1957-58: 150 inches; 1960-61: 174 inches; 1967-68: 151.5 inches). Do you have data supporting your comment, or are you basing it on memory? (I don’t mean to be critical. If your comment was based on memory, I’ve made the same mistake: I could have sworn that my childhood in the 80s in the northeast was way snowier than it is now — but the data shows that I am wrong. And I think this is a common phenomenon, i.e., people thinking that the winters of their youth were more fearsome than the winters of today.)

  12. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s deja-vu all over again.” Every time there is a weak winter somewhere, these kinds of scare pieces get emitted.
    As Ric noted, this past winter was a really weak one, particularly as compared to the recent winters before that. But of particular note, during the winter of 2014 – 2015, the Vermont ski industry set an all-time record for skier visits.
    Speaking of which, want another Viner-esque embarrassment in the pipeline that’s soon to come due?
    Back in January 2007, after an unusually mild December 2006, the present-day governor of the state (Peter Shumlin – who, honestly, seems more android than human), who was then a state senator, assured everyone that it was absolutely settled science that if we did nothing about “global warming,” within ten years (there’s that phrase again!) the climate zones would have shifted north about 300 miles, Vermont winters would become what New Jersey winters then were, and the ski industry would basically be extinct.
    (Okay, maybe he had his magic screen upside down – for the most part, people in places like New Jersey and Cape Cod are wondering if the climate zones have been shifting 300 miles south rather than north.)
    Wish I had a link – I remember him saying it and made sure to “bank” that memory for use in ten years time. Maybe like Viner, all references were scrubbed. But if anyone can find anything beyond a few stories where he was complaining about December 2006, make it public, please! Only a few more months until the fun can really start.
    (And if you hadn’t noticed yet, God loves to laugh at warmists. Expect a Baffin-Island winter in the NE US next winter.)

    • Snowman,

      SHUMLIN: Any reasonable scientist will tell you that we’re going to rise anywhere between another two and three degrees in the next 30 years. That means that New Jersey’s climate is moving to Vermont in the next decade. That has tremendous implications in our economy’s ski, maple-sugar making, leaf-peeping and the list goes on and on. So we are — I at least am — looking at this with a major sense of panic.

      • Yirgach, thanks a ton! I remember him saying that but I never was able to find a link. You’ve done great service, as it can be added to the “Viner hall of shame” list – and given that it’s coming due soon, it should be repeated everywhere without mercy.
        Anthony, got this one for the “bank”?

  13. Well, my four snomobiles in the third tractor shed on my Wisconsin farm disagree. Snow has been better last few years than the decade plus before.

  14. Seems like der Bingle and Danny Kaye had the same problem in 1954.

    When they got off the train in Vermont there was NO SNOW and the poor General was going to lose his inn.

  15. According to VAST’s website-
    “VAST is a non-profit, private group that includes 128 clubs statewide, with over 24,000 members combined.”
    1450 surveys returned= 6% response.
    “Eighty percent of Vermont’s trail system is on private land. Snowmobiling is a privilege and is permitted only through the traditional generosity of thousands of property owners. Respecting the land by showing courtesy and not littering will ensure that New England’s best trail system remains open for years to come.”
    “All riders in Vermont must belong to VAST and a local club to ride legally in the state. There is a substantial fine for riding without a TMA.”
    So, if I vacation in Vermont, for one week out of my entire life, I’d be forced to become a member of VAST AND a local club in order to ride a rented machine legally. Which means that my opinion about how the snow in Vermont would affect my snowmobile riding preferences there is pretty much irrelevant.

  16. Comparing snow cover mid negative PDO to a transition from positive to negative. Hmmmmm ….

  17. A lot of the usual ifs in the article. The reality is much different. Burlington is in a naturally warm area between Lake Champlain (unless frozen over) and the urban heat island around the city. Outside of the Lake Champlain valley the snow comes sooner and remains longer. In northern Vermont we have measurable snow from October through the end of May. The early and late season snowfalls are typically elevation driven events. We usually have couple feet of snow on our open field until early April. By then everyone is sick of winter and is ready for summer.
    See Burlington’s NWS NOW data for snow depth at various reporting stations based on month and year. Use the top line Daily Data for a Month and then select the month and year.

  18. The list of things threatened by “climate change” is getting a bit unwieldy. Perhaps they should start a list of things NOT threatened by “climate change”.

  19. Quick glance at a couple Vermont towns records shows that most monthly snowfall records have occurred since 1960. Several records are this century. It’s not getting less snowy in Vermont.

  20. If true, then the snowmobile industry will surely decline. On the other hand, if true, the number of cases of frostbite, freezing, and injuries related to snow and ice will also decline. As will the amount of salt used on roads, municipal money for snow plowing equipment and cost of heating homes in the winter.
    A true tragedy. A shame it’s not likely true.

  21. “If connections between trails are lost, even if there’s sufficient snow cover in pockets of the state, participation rates could decline sharply,” he said.
    Once the percentage of Vermont trails that are open drops below about 65 percent, snowmobilers will begin to stay home, according to the survey.
    Is this a market study – compare with the quads market.

  22. Funny, they never care about the hundreds that are unemployed due to oil and gas costs going down and coal mines closing. I’m guessing this is just another lie to try and make people think they care. Hundreds of service jobs during the winter versus hundreds of high paying mining and oil jobs year round? Part-time, low pay wins every time.

  23. Temperatures are expected to rise between 2 and 3.6F in the next 25 years?????
    Where the blank did that come from? Even the IPCC isn’t projecting that much for the next century.

  24. Ontario, Canada had a pretty warm winter. At least the start and middle had less snow than normal.
    However, spring more than made up for it. Even in Toronto, we had more snow in the first week in April than we did in all of January and February.
    My brother lives on one of the busiest snowmobile trails in Canada (and they had a snowfall of almost a foot last week, and still have snowbanks). Most snowmobilers also have ATVs, so the trail got almost as much use as it did in previous years.
    I doubt Vermonters are much different…

  25. You would think the Vermont leftists would be applauding this, no more spewing nasty pollution and CO2 in the air from those nasty snow mobiles, now get back in the house and make some more tallow candles and spin some more yarn.

  26. Rutgers University funded by NASA and NOAA show a steady increase in snow coverage for the Northern Hemisphere using satellite records covering 30 years.

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