Snow conditions report: Dec. 27, 2018

Snow Conditions

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Fans of snow I’m sure will like to leave December 2018 behind.

Every day since Dec. 10, temperatures have been at or above average. As of Dec. 27, monthly temperatures are running 2.8 degrees above average.
Above average temperatures this year have equated to below average snowfall. There’s a decent chance December 2018 will end up among the top five least snowy Decembers on record.
The 2.4 inches of snow that we’ve received through Dec. 27 is the average amount of snow Grand Rapids receives by Dec. 6.

Interestingly enough, it appears as soon as we flip the calendar to January and the new year, we will begin to see changes to the weather pattern. The high of 27 degrees expected Jan. 2 would be the coldest high temperature so far this season. This should ignite some lake-effect snow showers next week.
As of Dec. 28, Michigan is 51 percent covered with snow with an average depth of two inches. Just like last week, the good snow for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing can only be found across the Upper Peninsula.
I mentioned during my previous snow conditions report that much of Michigan would find itself potentially on the warm side of the next storm. This has bared out with rain falling across virtually the entire state.
Eventually colder air will roll in in during the day on Friday, Dec. 28.Much of the weekend appears dry and colder with the most robust lake-effect snow showers expected Friday night and fizzling out Saturday. Not much snow will fall with the exception of the western U.P.
Much of the weekend will be dry and colder. Traveling will be quite good. So if you plan to ski at one of your favorite resorts, conditions will be quite good. High temperatures Saturday will be in the 20s through most of northern Michigan with 30s from Grand Rapids to the south.
Sunday’s high temperatures will be a little warmer, but the wind will pick up from the southwest and will be rather breezy. A little sunshine is possible Sunday as well.
All the ski resorts are open for business. Caberfae, Shanty Creek and Nubs Nob have all their slopes open. Crystal has opened the Ridge Triple lift and Shirk’s Slalom is open making for 87% of trails open. Boyne Mountain is reporting 30/60 open, and Boyne Highlands has 31/55 ready to schuss down. If you do not want to travel north, Bittersweet and Cannonsburg can accommodate you as well this weekend, although Cannonsburg was closed Thursday and Friday morning because of the rain.

The frustration continues to build for my snowmobile friends. Although I’ve heard a few or you were out across northern lower Michigan last weekend, with the expected rain there will not be any usable trails this weekend.

I checked various reports in the U.P. and trail conditions vary quite a bit. None are great.

Reports out of Newberry suggest if you stay on the north trails you can find a 4-6 inch base. The dirt roads do have snow on them, so you can access the trails.

Reports from Paradise are not as encouraging, with trails being reported as being poor even before Thursday night’s rain.

It’s a marginally better story west in Grand Marais, with a trail base fluctuating from 0 to 6 inches. You can get into the Beartrap with a recent groomer report suggesting 443 and trail 88 connector are fair to good.

The AuTrain area is reporting poor trail conditions, and there’s not much improvement as you drop south to Manistique, with the southern trails virtually unusable.

Northern trails are reporting a 1-6 inch base with the Jackpine and Camel Riders generally good.

Here are the Dec. 27 snow depth reports across Michigan:

  • Herman: 14 inches
  • Calumet and Painedale: 13 inches (Calumet is the first station to hit 100 inches for the season. Last year, there were six stations by this date.)
  • Houghton and Grand Marais: 12 inches
  •  Marquette: 11 inches
  •  Munising: 9 inches
  • Newberry, Paradise and the Soo: 6 inches
  • St. Ignace and Manistique: 3 inches
  • Escanaba: 1 inch
  • Gaylord-Waters: 3 inches
  • Houghton Lake: 2 inches
  • Alpena: 1 inch

Cold and snow look more promising as we slide into January.

Even normal temperature will be cooler than we’ve been, with more chances of lake-effect snow, especially across Northern Michigan. Storm Team 8 will keep an eye on a potential storm for New Year’s Eve day. This could bring a chance of significant snow across portions of Lower Michigan, but models are not agreeing on the track yet.

Beyond that, the weather pattern doesn’t seem conducive to any big winter storms, so we’ll have to hope for more frequent lake-effect events.
The European model indicates a decent swath of snow with a Dec. 31 event across Northern Michigan.
The GFS model is not as aggressive with the snow.
The medium range forecast models are showing consistently cooler temperatures across the eastern U.S. from Jan. 6-16.
The cold will also increase the chances of snow that should start to spread south across the Great Lakes.
Overall, I think we are turning the corner to colder and snowier conditions as we head into January and February. Think snow!


The Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Jacobson Heating & Cooling and Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resort.

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