The weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically a good one for central Maine’s snowmobilers, but this year’s lack of snow and recent warm temperatures have many in the industry asking riders to hold off.

Trail groomers in northern and western reaches of Somerset and Franklin counties say snowmobile conditions are not great as the new year approaches, and they recommend riders wait for better conditions to allow the trails to firm up and new snow to arrive.

The recommendation comes as the industry gears up for its annual Behave Yourself news conference, put on by the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Snowmobile Assocation. The conference is 10 a.m. Monday at the Augusta Trailblazers headquarters at 213 Burns Road.

Because the weather is so mild, it’s the the first time in years that the conference, which promotes snowmobile safety, will be held outside, organizers said.

But that mild weather comes with a price.

Snow that fell earlier in December has largely melted with the rain and warm temperatures over Christmas, leaving dirt, mud and standing water in places.

“There are some kids out riding in some fields, but right now we’re looking at green grass,” said Phil Wacome, vice president of Skowhegan Sno Hawks snowmobile club. “It’s like springtime. Winter’s not here yet. It was, then it wasn’t. We’re just waiting on weather. It could be two weeks, it could be a week.”

The temperature at noon Sunday in Skowhegan was 43 degrees.

The forecast is for colder temperatures starting Monday night, according to the National Weather Service. There is a 50 percent chance of snow on Saturday.

Abnaki Sno-Riders in Madison reports that all trails are closed due to lack of snow, open water and nothing being frozen, according to a social media message.

North of Skowhegan, up U.S. Route 201 in Bingham, Leo Hill, trail master for Valley Riders snowmobile club, said trail conditions in town are poor, but get better the farther one goes into the woods where 10-12 inches of wet snow remain.

“We can’t start grooming until we get another seven or eight inches of snow,” said Hill at Gateway Recreation and Lodging in Bingham. “It’s a little bit slower than last year, because we had an early start last year. We just need snow.”

Brandon Berry at Berry’s General Store in West Forks, 50 miles north of Skowhegan, said trail masters have been grooming as much as they can, but there still is “a lot of water out there.”

“There are sleds coming into the store for fuel and nobody is really complaining, mainly because it’s not even January yet so people are happy to be riding at all,” Berry said. “We definitely need some snow.”

Glenn Bishop at Bishop’s Motel in Jackman, about 20 miles north of West Forks, said snowmobile trails are all ridable, but trail groomers have not been able to go out yet. Some trails are showing dirt and a few “bony areas,” and the lakes definitely are not yet safe to cross, he said.

“It’s not cold enough,” Bishop said Sunday. “It’s supposed to get cold enough starting tonight, but we really could use some more snow before it gets good. If you wait a week, you’ll be much happier. The further south you go the worse it is, but once we get some snow it should be very good.”

Conditions in the western mountains are a little better, but still not ideal for snowmobiling, according to the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club website, which was updated on Friday.

“Trails are not that bad,” the club posted. “Trail master says they are open to ride. With that being said, I personally would wait for better conditions and allow the trails to firm up and new snow (to) arrive.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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