GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This week’s Snow Snow Conditions presents the classic good-news, bad-news scenario.
Since the good news is first, I’ll begin there. Over the course of the past week, snow has been consistently falling across northern Michigan and unlike last week, that puts snowmobilers in the game. Also, all ski resorts will be open to the north.
A storm is coming for Friday night and Saturday, but it does not mean snow for everyone. In a nutshell, the farther north you are, the more likely you’ll see additional snow. Here’s where we stand Thursday going into the weekend in terms of snow depth:
The typical spots that get aided with lake-effect show up well in this image.
Here’s a few snow depths:
- Cadillac: 7
- Lake City: 8
- Frankfort: 6
- Houghton Lake: 6
- Traverse City: 8
- Maple City: 9
- Kalkaska: 9
- Fife Lake: 9
- East Jordan: 7
- Charlevoix: 6
- Cheboygan: 5
- Gaylord: 7
- Waters: 13
- Petoskey: 8
- St. Ignace: 4
- Soo: 11
- Newberry: 7
- Paradise: 14
- Grand Marais: 18
- Manistique: 6
- Munising: 10
- Marquette: 5
- Houghton: 10-15
These snow depths are a moot point with a significant storm expected for Friday night and Saturday. Here’s the breakdown:
A deepening area of low pressure will track from Traverse City to Alpena. This will place the rain and snow line in the Straits area Friday night through Saturday morning. By noon Saturday, the low (980mb) will be pulling away and Michigan will be experiencing the wraparound cold air, which will ignite lake-effect snow.
The million-dollar question is how much snow will fall. Here’s the European model through 7 a.m. Sunday:
And here’s the GFS model through 7 a.m. Sunday:
As you can see both the ECMWF and GFS model are consistent in placing the sweet spot of snow over the central and eastern U.P.
The snow is certainly great news but it will be accompanied with very strong winds Saturday. Gusts will likely exceed 40 mph, so blowing snow will be a concern.
High temperatures Saturday will peak in the 20s across the northern sections of the state. Warmest readings will be during the morning and will fall during the afternoon.
Wind chills will be substantially colder between 5 to 15 degrees above zero.
Sunny and dry conditions are expected Sunday, which means good traveling back home. Highs temperatures will be in the mid- to upper 20s.
All resorts in Northern Michigan will be open this weekend. The best days to ski will be Friday (if open) and Sunday. If you are skiing Saturday, expect horizontal snow.
BITTERSWEET: Bittersweet opened Thursday and it’s TBD for Friday. Heavy rain is likely Friday night.
CANNONSBURG: The game plan was to open Dec. 18, but that will be in major jeopardy due to the extreme warmth next week. I’ll update you in next week’s Snow Conditions Report.
CABERFAE: Open Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Regular season hours begin Jan. 2 Open lifts for this weekend will be Vista, Shelter, North Peak and Green Mountain Flying Carpet.
CRYSTAL: Open Friday from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Open lifts will be the Clipper, Loki, North Face and Totem Park.
SCHUSS: Opening Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Open lifts will be Purple, Yellow, and Magic Carpet.
BOYNE MOUNTAIN: Open daily starting this Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Night skiing begins Wednesday Dec. 22.
BOYNE HIGHLANDS: Same as Boyne Mountain.
NUB’S NOB: Open for the season Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
We are in the game this weekend! If you want to hit the trails before Christmas, this is the weekend. I think they will be toast across the northern Lower Peninsula the following weekend. There might be hope for the U.P. yet.
LOWER NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Examining local reports they look rather good. Pete of Coyote Crossings said Cadillac area is looking good with about 10 inches of base on most trails. Houghton Lake is good, as well. Snowbelt areas of Kalkaska, Mancelona, Manton, Fife Lake, Wolverine over to Gaylord are all looking good. What I’ve read is that the snow gets thin near the Straits and Indian River.
My advice is if you can throttle it, get up north as fast as you safely can Friday. The rain/wintry mix shouldn’t begin until sunset. There should be a 12-hour window between 9 p.m. Friday evening and Saturday morning that mostly rain will fall over the trails over the northern Lower Peninsula. Again, the cutoff appears to be the Straits area. I’m not sure if the rain Friday night will wipe out the trails for the remainder of the weekend. If it were me, I would ride where the snow is deepest and hopefully they will. These include Kalkaska, Jordan Valley, Blue Bear and Gaylord/Frederick trails.
If you can afford the gas, my advice is to head across the Mighty Mac. Do it before Saturday as it might be closed due to high winds. The base on the trails is good anywhere from M-28 north and 8 to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow is on the way. Cautionary note: Be careful riding Saturday, especially in open areas. For instance, Trail 8 from Paradise to Pine Stump in the burn area, there will likely be whiteout conditions with 2- to 4-foot drifts. If you can stick it out through Sunday, you will be greeted with sunshine and great visibility.
THE BAD NEWS
Major warmth will spread across the Great Lakes this week through Thursday. It could even bring record highs in some spots Wednesday and Thursday. Here’s the current highs expected for Grand Rapids:
Expected highs for Sault Ste. Marie:
You can see it won’t be as warm in the U.P., so some of the trails may be able to survive for next weekend.
For ski resorts, most nights won’t be cold enough to make snow. I’m not sure who will have enough snow next weekend, but I’ll let you know in my Snow Conditions Report.
Looking ahead, there are signs around Dec. 21 that we could get the coldest shot of the season to date. Here’s a snapshot of the GFS on the 21st. If it turns out to be correct, hopefully a white Christmas will ensue.
I’ll update you with the next Snow Conditions Report to see what resorts and trails survived the warmth. Until then, have fun in the snow! Send me pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe you’ll make it into my next report. I love to see them.