Warm weather draws W MI residents outdoors

Skiers hit the slopes on man-made snow at Cannonsburg Ski Area

Cannonsburg Ski Area
Skiers on the slopes at Cannonsburg Ski Area in Cannon Township on Feb. 20, 2017.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan has been granted a reprieve from winter and residents are taking advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures.

It was a sunshine-filled weekend, and President’s Day was also bright and warm. In East Grand Rapids, the sidewalks were busy thoroughfares for people who took the opportunity to head out for a walk.

Northeast of Grand Rapids at Cannonsburg Ski Area, the slopes were open and busy Monday despite the warm weather. Cannonsburg has been making snow at night so winter sports enthusiasts can get their fix.

“We have such a big base from this winter that it’s been really great conditions out here,” explained Danielle Musto, Cannonsburg’s event coordinator.

With the kids out of school for the holiday, business was brisk for a Monday in February.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but I haven’t had enough yet,” skier Chris Voigt told 24 Hour News 8. “It’s spring conditions in mid-February. It’s a little weird. It’s fun, but I’m just hoping that it will last a little bit longer.”

The ski area is likely to remain open the rest of the week.

“A lot of people have been showing up in Hawaiian shirts, T-shirts and shorts, and really embracing this warmer weather,” Musto said.

But the warm weather can also prove dangerous. On Sunday, emergency crews were called to Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids after a man fell through the ice when he went to retrieve his ice fishing shanty.

“He couldn’t get help by yelling and screaming. Luckily, we had a citizen walking along the laKe that spotted him struggling in the middle of the water,” East Grand Rapids Public Safety Officer Troy Brown said. “They said a couple of more minutes and he probably wouldn’t have been above water.”

An East Grand Rapids Public Safety officer on a hovercraft after a fisherman fell into Reeds Lake on Feb. 19, 2017.
An East Grand Rapids Public Safety officer on a hovercraft after a fisherman fell into Reeds Lake on Feb. 19, 2017.

First responders launched a hovercraft to rescue the man.

“The ice was so thin in the area he was at that literally it was rippling like water when they got over to him,” Brown said.

The man was hospitalized in the beginnings stages of hypothermia, but is expected to be OK.

Authorities warned that the ice is unstable and can change day-by-day or sometimes even hour-by-hour. Brown said that this time of year, crews usually have to pull two or three people from the ice.

Storm Team 8 says the unseasonably warm weather will continue through the middle of the week.