Snow Conditions Report: Dec. 23, 2020

Snow Conditions

Note: Because of the holiday, this week’s Snow Conditions Report is coming to you a day early.

The Christmas gift for all of my fellow snow enthusiasts will be the increased chance of snow in the coming days and week ahead.

The lack of snow is at a historic level for Southwest Michigan. Grand Rapids’ measly 0.4 inches of snow so far this season represents the least amount of snow so late in the season and the latest for not achieving an inch. Snow deficits continue to pile up (in the wrong direction).

November ended up more than four degrees warmer than average, and so far, December has followed pursuit.

It’s incredible to think we’ve only had two instances of measurable snow in Grand Rapids this season so far and they were in November.

The snow has been close, though, and at least parts of Northern Michigan are still clinging onto it. The average snow depth is only 1.5 inches.

We’ll add more snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with a light to moderate dose of lake-effect. Most areas near the lakeshore, mainly west of US-131, will fall into the range of 3 to 6 inches, with locally higher amounts up to eight inches. This is not a lot over two days but considering the winter we’ve had so far, it’s significant.

After Thursday and Friday’s snow, it appears temperatures will moderate enough that no more snow will fall over the weekend.

I normally give the snow depths across the state but as I write this (on Wednesday), highs will be near 50 and then lake-effect snow will arrive. Therefore, snow depths will change dramatically over the next 48 hours.

Even though snow isn’t in the cards for us on Saturday and Sunday, it does appear the pattern overall into next week will be more winter-like. Both the GFS and European models latch onto a couple of potential storms Sunday night and one around the New Year.

The European model:

The one-month snowfall forecast of 18 inches in Grand Rapids would still be below average.

Temperatures appear rather manageable this weekend, if you plan to hit the ski slopes. It appears we will avoid Arctic air this weekend and next. Below are the high temperatures expected this weekend.

All ski resorts are either currently open or will open this weekend. Below are snapshots of Boyne Highlands and Bittersweet on Wednesday.


Cannonsburg will open on Sunday.

Bittersweet will be open on Thursday fom 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. From Friday through the weekend, hours will be 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Caberfae will have four lifts are open: the Vista Triple, North Peak Quad, Shelter Double Chair and the Green Mountain Flying Carpet. These lifts will service 16 slopes: Smiling Irishmen, Canyon, Shelter, Gum Drop, Easy Street, Monty’s, Ski Shop, No. One, RW, Cruiser, Hot Dog, Wild Cat, Candy Cane, Upper Lift Line, Lower Lift Line & BB Blvd. Hours of operation on Christmas Eve will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Christmas Day from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily from Dec. 26t through Jan. 3.

Crystal Mountain will turn on its lifts from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Currently, four lifts are open. servicing seven trails. You can ski with Santa on Christmas Eve and lift tickets on Christmas day cost $25.

Schuss Mountain/Shanty Creek will have the Blue, Pink and Yellow chair lifts open, including the Magic Carpet. They will service 14 trails including Mellow Yellow, Kings Canyon and Goodnight, Purple Daze, Boulevard, Kingdom Come and Blue Skidoo to name a few (ha, ha). Lifts will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through New Year’s Day.

Boyne Mountain will have six lifts open, including Boyneland, Hemlock, Magic Carpet, Mountain Express, Ramshead and Victor. They will service twelve trails of Boyneland, Deer Run, Easy Street, Ramshead,Express, North Boyne, Victor and Pierson, North-South and Center Mclouth, along with Hemlock. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Boyne Highlands has five lifts are open that include the Challenger, Camelot, Heather Express, MacGully and the Wonder Carpet. Popular slopes that are open include Little John, North Camelot, Leprechaun, Healther, Upper Camelot, Upper and Lower MacGully, K2, North and South Challenger and Olympic. Hours of operation on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From Dec. 26 through Jan. 2, slopes will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Nubs Nob has four lifts open on Wednesday, along with the tow rope that will service 30 runs. Lifts will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. now through the end of the ski season.


With Wednesday’s snow-melting temperatures, trails will further deteriorate. Lake-effect snow showers will replenish some of it, but it will be marginal enough that any good trail riding will be a challenge.

Cadillac area: Straight from “Pete:” Poor trail conditions. “We need 4 to 6 inches of good, packable snow to make trails decent again.”

Grayling area: Poor. Straight from Keith the AVSA trail manager: “If you are driving any amount of distance to get here and trail riding is your deal, I would think twice about it.” Trails are dirt and snow. The better riding is just off trail.

Indian River area: Poor.

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.


Although we settle into a more conducive weather pattern for periodic snow, temperatures will not be cold enough for good, consistent lake-effect.

The latest 8- to 14-day temperature outlook seems to continue that trend through the first week of January. With average highs below the freezing mark, we can still get decent accumulating snow in patterns such as these.

Stay tuned, as Storm Team 8 as we will be on the lookout. Until then, think snow.


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

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