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The lack of snow has consequences which give cold in the back

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The snowmobile trails are so lacking in snow that they won't be able to open this winter.

Radio-Canada

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This year, several regions of Quebec are having to deal with a significant deficit of snow on the ground. This depressing context for outdoor enthusiasts could also have significant environmental repercussions.

Environment Canada estimates that there is currently 0 cm of snow on the ground in Sherbrooke. On average, from 1980 to 2010, there were 19 cm on this day of the year. The situation is no better in Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Quebec. There is so little snow that snowmobile trails will not open in Sherbrooke unless there is a 30 to 40 cm snowfall. I have been with the Club for ten years and this is the first winter where we have failed to open the trails in February, deplores the vice-president of trails at the Harfang de l'Estrie snowmobile club, Marc. Lachance.

The financial impacts are heavy for the Club since part of its financing is linked to the number of surfacing hours. That means that if I don't surface, I don't get paid, says Mr. Lachance.

This money is used to pay for annual trail maintenance costs, which run into the tens of thousands of dollars. If the seasons are shortened, yes, indeed, we will have to see with the Federation to have additional [sums of money] to continue to offer a network, adds the vice-president.

Climatic conditions also have a very real impact on consumer habits. For example, at the Atmosphere store in Sherbrooke, snowshoes were not very popular this year, so much so that the store even chose to release summer equipment much earlier than last year. 'habit. It's surprising the amount of people who come to get ready for an electric bike. We ourselves are [surprised]. [We tell ourselves] that people are early, that they want to move on to something else, says the co-owner, Mathieu Péloquin.

It's not just sports and commercial sales that are affected by the lack of snow. Consequences of low cover could be felt in the environment. For example, frozen ground prevented water that resulted from melting snow in recent weeks from recharging groundwater tables. However, these tables could be lower than usual in the spring.

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Robert Leconte worries about the effects of lack of snow on insects, among others.

When levels are too low, it can put certain drinking water intakes at risk. It could have impacts on crops. The soils will be drier in the north. We are also talking about forest fire season, that does not bode well, says Robert Leconte, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Sherbrooke.

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Not forgetting the insects which live a few centimeters from the surface of the ground and which are normally protected by the insulating effect of snow. It can cause excess mortality in these species, he adds.

According to Mr. Leconte, we will have to get used to a light snow cover in southern Quebec. This trend is very real.

With information from Thomas Deshaies

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