Right around the time of the Autumn Equinox, we start to get reports of our first snow of the season and we start looking at factors that might determine what our West Michigan winter may look like.

The pics. above and below are from the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mt. Natioinal Park in Colorado. This was the first snow of the year and taken Sept. 11.

Snow along the Trail Ridge Road in Colorado
Snow in Rocky Mountain National Park – Sept. 11, 2023
North American Snow and Ice Cover

On the map above, the yellow color is ice and represents the permanent ice cover around the North Pole. The white is snow on the ground. Snow has fallen over the Brooks Range (northern mountains of Alaska) and there is snow on the higher mountains of SE Alaska down the west coast of British Columbia…also around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper along the British Columbia/Alberta border.

Members of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets pictured here, aboard the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent in Hudson Bay.

Hudson Bay is ice free now. This is the time when the few small towns around the bay can receive supplies by ship. This is also time to see beluga whales and polar bears. Churchill, Manitoba is the “polar bear capital of the world”. They come off the melting ice in July and roam around on land until the ice forms again in November.

On the map above, you can also see the first snows of the season have fallen in Siberia, Russia.

Last year, the first trace of snow was on Oct. 13. The first measurable snow was on Nov. 13. Grand Rapids had a whopping 28″ of snow last November. Stronger winds last winter blew the heavier lake-effect snow farther inland, giving Grand Rapids more snow than areas along the immediate lakeshore.

With the flip from El Nino to La Nina, it’s possible there could be less total snowfall this coming winter in Grand Rapids and more snow than last year in some lakeshore areas.

Also: 38cm (15″) of snow fell in Kiruna, Sweden which is the deepest accumulation of snow in the city this early since 1905! This is a new record for most snow ever in the month of September.

Sunrise at Wabasis Lake Sept. 16, 2023 from John Frueh

Wednesday was the first warmer-than-average day in Grand Rapids in nearly two weeks. Temperatures were warmer than average from Sept. 2-7, then a little cooler than average each day from Sept. 8-19. We’ll stay warmer-than-average now into at least early next week. So far, this month of September is 0.6 degrees cooler than average. We should end the month on the plus side and I think October will be a touch warmer than average.

Grand Rapids has had just 0.02″ of rain since Sept. 11. Grand Rapids has had 1.23″ of rain this month and that’s 0.99″ below average.

The wind has been generally light of late. The average wind speed since Sept. 7 has been just 4.6 mph. The fastest gust of wind in the last two weeks has been only 23 mph.

It’s also been on the cloudy side of late. Over the last 15 days, G.R. has picked up just 38.5% of possible sunshine. That’s well below the average sunshine for September which is 61%.

For more cool weather info, check out my blog.