Varying Snow Conditions
Winter weather can produce a wide range of unpredictable snow conditions. Be sure to check the weather forecast for where you plan to ride prior to leaving on your trip. Since conditions can change dramatically in a very short time period, always be prepared for the unexpected. Minimize damage to your machine by trying to avoid bare areas of ground. Avoiding bare ground also helps prevent mixing more dirt into the trail's snow base (which causes the trail to thaw quicker), as well as prevent soil erosion or damage to vegetation.
While fresh, powdery snow can be ideal for riding, it can linger in the air as 'snow dust' after snowmobiles travel over it. This snow dust can reduce visibility for riders and make it difficult to see other snowmobiles, trail signs, motor vehicles, and hazards. Always reduce your speed and lengthen your following distance when riding in powder and snow dust conditions.
While wet snow can be great to ride on, it can make steering your
snowmobile more difficult and reduce your visibility. Ride with caution and slow down to ensure you can see clearly and have time to properly steer your machine. Wet snow can also make your ride less pleasant and increase the risk of hypothermia if you’re not dressed properly in waterproof gear since snow will be more prone to accumulating on your snowmobile, clothing, helmet visor or goggles.
Ice can form on hard-packed trails and roads making snowmobile operation difficult. When you suspect ice may be present, slow your speed way down and operate
with extreme caution. Take corners very slowly and allow extra distance to safely stop.
Use extra caution when operating on frozen lakes or rivers, paying close attention to adequate ice thickness as well as transitions between snow cover and bare ice. Slow down since too much speed and acceleration as you move onto bare ice can cause your snowmobile to spin or skid out of control.
When trails have been heavily used without much new snowfall, they can develop areas of snow and dirt mixed together and make your snowmobile more difficult to
steer. These conditions can also be hard on your snowmobile, so check your machine for damage after riding in these conditions.