MILLE LACS, Minn. (WCCO) — The New Year actually started with subzero temperatures and we barely made it into the teens today.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year it was in the 50s. But this year people had to really bundle up to get outside.

But the cold weather is allowing some businesses to rebound.

“It feels like winter,” said Terry McQuoid of McQuoid’s Inn near Lake Mille Lacs. “Minnesota is supposed to be a winter fun ground.”

Except that last year it wasn’t. A mild winter produced very little snow. McQuoid said it was the worst season for his Lake Mille Lacs resort in 21 years — especially for snowmobile rentals.

“If we haven’t surpassed all of last year’s snowmobile rentals, we are right next to it,” he said. “It’s been night and day difference already.”

In fact, McQuoid said last year they didn’t rent out their first snowmobile until Feb. 29, when the season is usually coming to an end.

Business was down 50 percent overall. Now, rooms at the resort are filling up and they are reeling in vacationers nearly as fast as they reel in walleyes.

“We have enough snow to ride on the trails, but not enough that we aren’t gaining on ice,” said guide Mike Verdeja. “This cold is really making ice, so people can take to the ice and go fishing anywhere they want.”

The numbers are the reason why.

We have about 4.7 inches more of snow to date than last year. And last December, we were about 8 degrees above average temperature-wise. This year, we were only about 3.7 degrees above average.

“Normal is all we need,” McQuoid said.

And that goes for resorts, restaurants, snowmobile dealerships and other businesses too. Around Lake Mille Lacs, average is a good thing.

“If it comes to be a record, by God that helps make up for last year,” McQuoid said.


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