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Warm weather takes a toll on Western New York snowmobile industry

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 18:31:27-05

CHAFFEE, N.Y. (WKBW) — This snowmobiling season has been a bumpy ride for Western New York. Buffalo experienced its second warmest January on record in 30 years.

Terry and Michelle Armstrong are the co-owners of Pioneer Motosport in Chaffee. Both said there's been a trend of less snow for snowmobiling over the past couple of years.

"This season has been challenging it's challenging," Michelle said. "It's one like I haven't seen in the 26 years I've been here."

Terry has been riding since he was eight years old, and said it's not just a matter of how much snow there is, but if the ground freezes over.

"If the ground freezes then, any snow we get on top of that pretty much stays, but that just hasn't been the situation the last couple of years," he said.

Buyers come in to Pioneer sports for a wide variety of things, but the warm weather has taken a toll on snowmobile sales. Michelle said at its peak, the store would sell 250 snowmobiles a year, this season its sold about 60.

The Armstrongs says the trail across the street from the store has only been used a handful of times this season. That's why many riders have to go elsewhere for better riding, including Canada and the Adirondacks. Michelle said that's taking a toll on the local economy in southern Erie County.

"It effects restaurants, the gas stations," she said. "People don't realize when there's lack of winter, there's a lot of people that their businesses suffer."

New York State announced a free weekend of snowmobiling for all out-of-state and Canadian snowmobile riders, in an effort to boost tourism.