VILAS COUNTY (WAOW) -- Some snow fell earlier on Monday, adding to the few inches already accumulated in Vilas County. The county's snowmobile season officially started at noon.
Many area business owners said they depend on seasonal tourists to turn a profit. Even though the trails have opened, the slushy snow seemed to discourage snowmobilers from heading out on opening day.
Hundreds of miles of Vilas County trails have been groomed for the start of the snowmobile season. But no one's riding on them on opening day and the county's snowmobile program coordinator said slushy snow is to blame.
"It's that time of year where anything could happen right now," said Vilas County snowmobile program coordinator Dale Mayo. "A few more inches would definitely help us out as far as grooming. That's what we need right now -- another four to six inches of wet, heavy snow."
Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts visit Vilas County to explore the snowmobile trails each year.
"Snowmobiling brings in a lot of business to not only our business here but the surrounding area," said Ryan Spitz, who works at Track Side in Eagle River. "It means a lot. If you have a good year, it means a lot of happy customers and a lot of merchandise being moved."
Spitz said you can never tell what the weather will bring. Snowfall can bring big bucks to small businesses or leave them in a big hole.
"Definitely the weather plays a major role in what moves and what doesn't," said Spitz. "If you have a good long season, a lot of people are more apt to buy as opposed to a more short, less snow-filled season."
Snowmobiling experts said the trail conditions aren't too far off the traditional mark for this time of year.
"We weren't anticipating this warm weather, of course," said Mayo. "If you're out snowmobiling now, there could be some wet areas in the low-lying areas. Ideally we could use a little bit of cold weather."
Store workers said people come from all over the country to check out the trails. And they still expect a good turnout during the next few months.
"The best part is getting out and just having a ball," said Spitz. "Going out, exploring, stopping in establishments, talking with the people and just enjoying nature."
Snowmobile experts said since the snow is still a little rough, riders should be especially careful on the trails and stay off the lakes until they're marked safe to cross.