Snow Conditions Report: Dec. 1, 2017

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It’s the first weekend of December and we have the first winter-like weather of the season knocking on our door. A wholesale change in the weather pattern will arrive this coming week that will spread snow and cold across the Great Lakes.

So wax your skis and snowboards and fine tune your snowmobiles because once the cold arrives, I believe it will lock in right through Christmas — and likely beyond.

Even though November ended slightly below average (-1.5 degrees), the last week ended up six degrees above average. This led to anemic snowfall for the month at 0.6″, which is a solid half foot below average.

This weekend will represent the last of the warmth with highs near 50 degrees, so it will be a good time to bag up the remainder of the leaves, get the Christmas tree and hang those festive lights.

Why am I so confident in the pending cold and snow? Since it’s that time of year and we haven’t had an inch of snow yet, Storm Team 8 and I have been watching closely when we will first receive significant snow.

The models are all in agreement that next week will be it. The plunge into arctic air shows up within the span of the Storm Team 8-Day Forecast.

Arctic air will reside over the Great Lakes beyond 8-day forecast

Once the cold arrives it means lake-effect snow will commence as well. The exceptionally warm fall (16th warmest in Grand Rapids, 8th in Muskegon) has resulted in warmer-than-average water temperatures.

Water temperatures across most of Lake Michigan are still between 45 and 50 degrees. Typically, the larger the contrast between lake water temperatures and the air above results in more robust, lake-effect snow.

The snowfall has been anemic the past couple of weeks across Michigan resulting in only 7 percent of Michigan reporting snow on the ground. Unfortunately, none of it is deep enough to play in yet.

The exception,of course, is the ski resorts that have been blasting out man-made snow with their snow machines. At last check, Schuss Mountain, Boyne Mountain and Highlands, Nubs Nob and Caberfae Peaks will be open this weekend with limited chair lifts and runs pen.

I think all the ski resorts will be open by the second weekend of December. Snowmobilers will not be as lucky. We have to rely solely on mother nature’s snow and it takes awhile to get a sufficient base on the trails. I’m thinking as we approach the third weekend of December, we’ll be able to fire up the sleds.

This map will dramatically change by next weekend, especially in the lake-effect prone areas on the western side of the state. I don’t see any significant snow storms in the near term, but lake-effect snow will be ongoing.

This snow report will be done on a weekly basis every Friday and sometimes even on Thursdays. These are the features I’ll highlight in each report: current snow depth, expected additional snowfall during the weekend, temperatures (short term & sometimes medium range) including wind chills.

I’ll also include where the best skiing and snowmobile reports have been. Sometimes I’ll be able to personally report on those, since I’m hoping most of my weekends will be spent doing one or the other.


Matt Kirkwood’s Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Harvey Automotive.

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