Season Snowfall Update – When Will We Get Cold (Really Cold)

Bill's Blog

Grand Rapids added 0.9″ of snow on Saturday, bringing the season snowfall to 14.0″. That’s 76% of average (18.5″). We have had 0.90″ less precipitation since November 1. Also, it’s been warmer than average – December is running 4.0° warmer than average, so our precipitation has been more rain than snow.

You can see there has been less snow at Lake Michigan with Holland and Muskegon getting only 6.5″ so far this winter. There were a couple times when we had snow inland and either rain or a mix at the lake because the lake added enough warmth to the air to give those areas more rain and less snow.

There’s been more snow to our north. Alpena has had 22.6″ of snow so far this winter and that’s 6.0″ above average. S. Ste. Marie has picked up 44.2″ and that’s 9.3″ above average.

Caberfae Ski Area Saturday Dec. 18

Most all of the ski resorts in N. Lower Michigan and Upper Michigan were in full swing on Saturday. This is Caberfae, just west of Cadillac – a lot of people there skiing and boarding. They got the power back on and have been making snow. They have a base of up to 36″. They should be able to make snow most or even all nights this week and should be in good shape for the Christmas to New Year’s period.

Mont Ripley Saturday Dec. 18

This was a pic. from Saturday at Mont Ripley in the U.P. Lots of snow here and a little blue sky to brighten up the day.

The resorts in S. Lower Michigan (Bittersweet, Cannonsburg, Swiss Valley, Timber Ridge, etc.) should be able to make snow this week. We may touch 40 on Monday, but no 50s or 60s, so they should be able to open up soon.

Sea Surface Water Temperature Anomaly

The map above shows the sea surface water temperature difference from average. Blue is areas where the water temperature is cooler than average and yellow, orange and red indicate where the water temperature is warmer than average.

The water in the Gulf of Mexico and water off the East Coast are warmer than average. Air coming off the Gulf of Mexico pushes north and brings quite warm and humid air into the Central U.S., feeding the storm systems that spawned tornadoes and severe thunderstorms as far north as SE Minnesota.

You can see the La Nina – the relatively cold water along the Equator west of S. America. This is the second year of La Nina. What did La Nina produce last winter? We had a record low snowfall total in Grand Rapids through Jan. 30, only 13.1″. Then, from January 31-February 27, we had 32.7″ of snow. Seventy-one percent of our snowfall last winter fell in those four weeks. February was also 6 degrees colder than average.

So, don’t be surprised if it gets cold and snowy here. I think that will happen and it will happen sooner than it did last year.

There is also a very significant area of cold water south of Alaska. Alaska has seen record cold this winter. Juneau is 5.9° colder than average so far this December. Anchorage was 7.8° colder than average in November and is 7.0° colder than average for December so far. Nome was an incredible 13.9° colder than average in November and so far 6.8° colder than average in December.

North American Snow and Ice Cover

This map shows areas with snow on the ground Saturday AM. The snow in S. Lower Michigan was generally an inch or less. Note how Vermont is snow covered, but not New Hampshire. Hudson Bay is freezing over. There is a fair amount of snow in the Western U.S. and Northern Plains. The storm track has been north of us, up toward Lake Superior, so that has kept us on the warm side of these systems and given us relatively warm temperatures and more rain than snow.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent – National Snow and Ice Data Center

Here’s the Arctic sea ice extent. The extent of the ice is well below the 1981-2010 average, but above the record low winter of 2012-13.

Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Anomalies 1966- Nov. 2021

The graph above is from the Rutgers Univ. Snow Lab. We’ve had a dozen consecutive hears of above average snowfall.

Snow Rank – Northern Hemisphere end of Nov. 2021

At the end of November the area with a snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere ranked 18th highest out of 56 years of data. Snow cover extents are shown in thousands of square kilometers.

ALSO: Full moon this weekend. The full moon of December is called the “Cold Moon” and is the moon that climbs highest in the sky. Mount Semeru erupted in Indonesia early Sunday, December 19, 2021. The height of the ash column observed rose to 2000 m above the peak (± 5676 m above sea level). Heavy frost covered most of Korean Peninsula and also the first snow in Seoul. Japan also had its shares of snowfalls in Honshu and the first frost in Tokyo. Mt. Fuji (3770m) dropped to a frigid -28.2C.

Severe Weather Outlook Map for Dec. 19, 2021

There is a Marginal Risk of a severe thunderstorm over the Florida Peninsula this PM/night. Isolated wind damage is the primary threat, though a random tornado is possible.

AND: Beautiful day in Honolulu. Strong hurricane near Vietnam. Florida Keys sunset. Bright rainbow.

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