There's a silver lining to the snow storms that pummeled Sudbury this week. The Sudbury Trail Plan Association says its entire network of snowmobile trails should be open in the next couple of days.

Dave Bolton, the president of the association, said his group has to play catch up with all the snow that came down.

"It's a nice, light, powdery snow and we have the groomers going," he said.

"We are hoping to get the rest of the trails open by the end of the weekend."

Charges laid in fatal snowmobiling accident

Police have charged the operator of a snow machine involved in a fatal open water incident in Parry Sound earlier this week.

On Monday night, a snow machine went into the water on Georgian Bay near the swing bridge to Wasauksing First Nation.

The operator managed to make it to shore, but the passenger did not.

The body of 18-year-old Jordan Mehlenbacher was recovered on Tuesday by the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The driver, an 18-year old man from Parry Sound, has been charged by the OPP’s West Parry Sound detachment with impaired operation causing death and criminal negligence causing death.

The accused has been released, and is scheduled to appear in court in next month.

Bolton added about 75 per cent of the trails in Sudbury are open right now. But he warned that some lakes are too slushy for grooming machines and are not safe. He said riders should only cross lakes that have been staked.

The Ontario Provincial Police is broadcasting the same message about being careful on frozen lakes and rivers.

They said the fluctuation in temperatures and increased snowfall has resulted in inconsistent and unstable ice conditions.

In the northeast region, they have investigated six occurrences in which snow machines have either broken through thin ice, or driven into open water. One of the incidents resulted in a fatality.

Police said three other snowmobile operators were also killed in off-ice incidents in Gogama, Sault Ste. Marie and Burks Falls. 

Collisions with stationary obstacles, such as ice shacks, rock outcrops and pressure cracks see riders ejected and seriously injured or killed, they added, noting that speed and alcohol often factor into such crashes. Riding at night increases risks of open water incidents and trail collisions, as machine headlights often don’t provide enough illumination of any dangers ahead.

For more information about trail conditions, check out the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs for updated reports.