Snow Conditions Report: Dec. 17, 2020

Snow Conditions

The Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Jacobson Heating & Cooling

The first Snow Conditions Reports of the season were written in the hopes of snow arriving and ski resorts opening. I’m excited to report that after last weekend’s snow, we now have some to play in, but you have to travel north.

As the weekend arrives, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Muskegon are all exceeding a snow deficit of around 15 to 20+ inches. Below is the deficit as of Dec. 17. At 6.6 inches, Oklahoma City has received more snow than we have!

You can see why this is happening, as mild temperatures have dominated November and December.

In terms of snow, it seems like we have a protective dome over Southwest Michigan. Last Saturday’s snow missed us to the north and the Wednesday and Thursday Nor’easter missed us to the south and east.

At least we still have some snow to report up north and 59% of the state is covered with a measly average depth of 1.5 inches.

Unfortunately, we will not add much — if anything — this weekend, even with a weak system moving through.

It would be great to see another snow event like the past weekend, but expect less than an inch of snow to fall in any one location this weekend.

Below are current snow depth totals:


  • Alpena: 11 inches
  • Traverse City, Cadillac, Gaylord, Fife Lake, Vanderbilt : 7 inches
  • Houghton Lake: 6 inches
  • Kalkaska, East Jordan, Cheboygan: 5 inches
  • Petoskey, Charlevoix, Frankfort: 3 inches


  • Munising: 6 inches
  • Big Bay, Calumet: 5 inches
  • Sault Ste. Marie: 4 inches
  • St. Ignace, Houghton, Ironwood: 3 inches
  • Marquette: 2 inches
  • All other locations reporting 1 inch or less

If you’re going to be one of the lucky ones to carve up the slopes this weekend, you may not even need a heavy jacket, especially if you ski aggressively. High temperatures this weekend will be well into the 30s.

This snapshot of Schuss Mountain should put a smile on your face. There, the snow grooming efforts are in full effect.


All resorts will open this weekend and a few already have opened, including Boyne Mountain, Highlands and Nubs Nob. The only resort not quite open yet is Cannonsburg.

Bittersweet has been jamming this past week, pumping out man-made snow. They will be open Thursday (3 p.m.) and through the weekend (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Caberfae opens at 12 p.m. on Friday until 5 p.m. and will be open this weekend and through Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Crystal Mountain season passholders get first dibs on the slopes on Friday, with Saturday and Sunday open to the public.

Schuss Mountain/Shanty Creek opens this Saturday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Beginning Wednesday, times of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Yellow and Purple chair lifts will be in operation.

Boyne Mountain is already open with the lifts of Boyneland, Hemlock, Mountain Express, and Victor shuttling you to the top to take advantage of five trails.

Boyne Highlands currently has three lifts in operation, including Camelot, Challenger and the Heather Express which allow you to ski seven trails.

Nubs Nob opened last weekend and beginning this weekend, it will be open daily. Lifts will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


We have to be patient. There are spots you can snowmobile across Northern Lower Michigan but the conditions are still not ideal. Bases still need more snow to set properly then panned and groomed. Last week’s wind, along with the heavy, wet snow brought down a lot of branches, so if you are out, be cautious. In fact, in Alcona County the DNR has closed all trails (96, 962, 963, 964, 966, 971). The DNR estimates they will open again (weather permitting) in two weeks.

Cadillac area: Straight from “Pete:” the cold is good but they need another 4 to 6 inches to help the base. Otherwise, trails have been rated in poor condition.

Grayling area: Groomers have been out but there have been a lot of reports of downed and low-hanging tree branches. Keith mentioned that you’ll be “passing a lot of rocks” at times.

Indian River area: Highest snow amounts from the previous storm can be found south of Indian River, including Chandler Hills, Gaylord/Frederic and Jordan Valley trails.

Eastern Upper Peninsula: Don’t bother, nothing yet worth traveling across the bridge for. Lake-effect snow has been anemic, even for the U.P.


Christmas is on deck and the prospect for white Christmas at this point seems rather gloomy. But don’t lose hope! In any given year, we have about a 60% chance of a white Christmas near Grand Rapids.

Although we will have above-average temperatures through Dec. 23, it appears a significant, yet brief shot of colder air will arrive Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately, it will hit but not hold. Already, by Christmas day or shortly thereafter, the jetstream pattern shifts to more of a zonal flow, pushing the cold back to the north.

Before that happens, though, it should be cold enough for at least some moderate lake-effect snow showers. As of Thursday, Dec. 17, here are the snow forecasts from a few of the models. They all give the lakeshore a white Christmas but inland locations are still iffy. Stay tuned.

I try to end my Snow Conditions Reports on a positive note for my fellow snow enthusiasts. Remember, Storm Team 8 has been emphasizing that we are in a La Niña winter pattern. This typically has the snowiest conditions arriving later in the winter.

Hopefully by next weekend, I’ll be able to continue with positive news. Until then, think snow.


The Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Jacobson Heating & Cooling.

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