Warm weather isn’t cool

Trevor Drew

Sometimes when I’m speed walking to class wrapped in multiple layers of thick, warm jackets and my hands shivering in the depths of my pockets to avoid the harsh cold of the outside, I like to imagine myself on a beach. A nice pair of shades, the sun beating down on me as I embrace the warmth and listen to the gentle tide roll in.

That’s usually my go-to fantasy but since last weekend I haven’t had much use for it.

Over the weekend, much of the Midwest experienced unseasonably warm weather, including Marquette. On Sunday, temperatures reached a high of 59 degrees, tying for fourth highest February temperature in Marquette behind three other instances all occurring before 1980, according to the National Weather Service in Marquette.

Being a lifelong Michigan resident I’m used to the cold, so when a nice, sunny day comes around I make it a point to go outside because it probably won’t last very long. As much as I enjoy warm weather every now and then during the deep freeze, sometimes it puts a damper on what makes the Upper Peninsula so appealing to some people.

It’s Winterfest and the first person I saw on campus this week was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. There are events planned that depend on a healthy amount of snow outside and all over campus students are building up a sweat as they walk around in sweatshirts in awe at the warm weather.

I’m not some lunatic that thinks the entire planet should be cold all the time, but I personally enjoy a slice of the year being dedicated to snow and the activities and events that come with winter.
An event that lined up with the weekend of warm weather was the U.P. 200, one of the top 12-dog mid-distance sled races in the Midwest, as well as being an Iditarod qualifier. The trail covers 230 miles of challenging terrain from Marquette to Grand Marais.

This year however, some of the track was impacted by the heat, shaking things up for many of the competitors. Although the U.P. 200 was not completely stifled by the weather, mushers such as Frank Moe, who placed fourth in this year’s race, had to make considerable changes to their strategy due to the strange heat.

“You try to run as much at night as possible, try to rest during the heat of the day from 11 o’clock to six if you can,” Moe said. “It’s not just the heat, it’s what it does to the snow; the bottom falls out of the trail so it becomes all the more difficult for the dogs just to travel and add the heat on top of that.”

Moe said that the dogs also require more water to compensate and added that at times he would even let his pups roll around in the snow to cool off and stay hydrated.

Moe added that, like any sport, the conditions are something that all mushers have to deal with.

Along with the U.P. 200, NMU’s Nordic Ski Team also had to deal with less-than-ideal conditions over the weekend at the NCAA Central Region Championships hosted in Ishpeming.
Junior Nordic Skier Ian Torchia described the races as “slow, brutal racing” in 50-degree weather and even noted that overheating was a concern.

“The organizers did a really good job; it was some of the best grooming I’ve seen for what they were given,” Torchia said. “Between Saturday and Sunday they probably had an hour to groom everything because that was the only time it was below freezing.”

Luckily, our beloved Nordic Ski Team was able to handle the heat and the team ultimately won the men’s, women’s and overall titles.

Like most Wildcats, I understood what I was signing up for when I decided to come to school in lovely Marquette. It may sound strange but it’s kind of disappointing when we can’t enjoy one of the most notable aspects of the area— the cold weather.

While unseasonal warmth is often welcomed, it definitely can throw a monkey wrench in the works for those who value the U.P. for its winter. While every now and then I’d rather be in Fiji with a nice mojito on the beach, I find it’s best to be patient and sip hot chocolate and sit on the furnace until the time is right.