EAGLE RIVER - Weather can make the difference between a good and bad winter tourism season.
Most spots in the Northwoods have seen more than doubled the snow total compared to this time last year.
That's great news for business.
That because snowmobilers could hit trails before Christmas.
For businesses like Bayside Motor Lodge in Eagle River, that means more people looking for rooms. Owner Holly Tomlanovich says that helps lay the foundation for a good season.
"You don't get as many riders because it's not like when the trails are announced open and you get hundreds of riders," Tomlanovich said. "But all of those riders are rooms that I would not have had if the trails weren't open."
Trails in Vilas County opened on Dec. 13, 2013. Tomlanovich says this year's snow is historically, traditional snowfall for December.
But she hasn't seen this much snow in December for more at least five to eight years.
When that happens businesses have to rely on the events in town.
And unlike snow, those aren't around every day of the week.
"You have to make enough to bridge each one of those events because those are automatic fills and they are not as predicated on weather," Tomlanovich said. "But this year it's going to be a little easier."
Now it's time for businesses to attract more seasonal travelers before racing fans come into town for the 51st World Championship Snowmobile Derby Week starting January 10th.
MINOCQUA - A Lakeland Union High School student could face punishment for putting a shooting threat in a bathroom last week.
According to a press release, the Minocqua Police Department believes the girl officers talked to today is likely the person who left graffiti referencing the Parkland, Florida school shooting in an LUHS girls' bathroom on Thursday.
HAYWARD - Trail conditions for this year's American Birkebeiner race will be just about perfect.
Executive Director Ben Popp said there's about a six inch base, three inches of snow on top, and more snow on the way in the Hayward area.
"The energy right now is just unreal. You can feel it here in Hayward and Cable and certainly around the world. Now with a gold medal, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, brings more excitement to not only this event, but the sport. So it's a really great time to be a cross country skier," said Popp.
MERRILL - Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill doesn't have room for any more kindergarten students next year.
Its class is already full, partly because some families can send their kids to Trinity for free.
For the third straight year, Trinity will participate in Wisconsin's private school choice program.
This year, the state pays tuition for about 30 of Trinity's 120 total students.
"Parents like the Christian base, obviously. That's the main reason people send [their kids] here," said School Administrator Kathy Yahr. "They're keeping them here more now because of the opportunities that we offer."
NORTHWOODS - Lakes and nature bring people from all over the country to the Northwoods during the summer. Those same attractions get some people to stay here. Home sales and home prices in the Northwoods went up in 2017.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association reports about 1,300 more homes sold last year than in 2016 in Wisconsin. A local broker saw the increase firsthand.
"The markets that are going crazy right now are premium homes. The Minocqua chain is red hot, the Eagle River chain is pretty hot the Three Lakes chain is pretty hot and there are some chains of lakes that are less hot," said Coldwell Banker broker Jim Mulleady.
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