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March will pick up where a cold and snowy February left off. Just like most of the winter, the theme will be to head north to find the best snow. There will be plenty of it to greet you — 80 percent of the state has a white blanket of snow with an average depth of 16 inches.
It’s been a rough couple of years for the trails in Southwest Lower Michigan. Despite the above-average snow this month in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, there isn’t much of a usable base to take advantage of, especially if you are snowmobiling.
There’s just enough north of I-94 to cross-country ski in and of course, the ski resorts will be fine in terms of snow this weekend.
Snow becomes much deeper and usable once you get north of M-20 and especially M-55.
Here’s a few other locations not identified on the maps above.
Cadillac: 11 inches
Lake City: 12 inches
Kalkaska: 23 inches
East Jordan: 24 inches
Charlevoix: 20 inches
Petoskey: 18 inches
Lewiston: 21 inches
St. Ignace: 24 inches
Drummond Island: 34 inches
Detour: 26 inches
Paradise: 39 inches
Grand Marais: 53 inches
Big Bay: 49 inches
Ishpeming: 55 inches
Calumet: 58 inches
Painesdale: 65 inches
Not a lot of snow will fall this weekend. There will be a weak system that will cross the state, depositing light snow Friday night through Saturday morning.
This will deposit trace amounts near the Michigan-Indiana state line to as much as four inches locally north. Most locations will come in with 1 to 2 inches.
Storm Team 8 will have to keep tabs of a second system on Sunday moving through the Ohio River that may sideswipe us with accumulatiing snow, especially south. Not all models are on the same page for this.
If you plan to take advantage of the slopes and/or snowmobile this weekend, here are the predicted high temperatures for Saturday.
Cold air will begin to spread south Sunday. It will be breezier as well.
Going into March, usually the first thing on snow enthusiasts ask is “How long will the season last?” My answer to that is the first two weeks of March will be an extension of winter.
We will not be melting much, if any snow. Near record cold in terms of especially high temperatures could occur Monday (3/4) and Tuesday (3/5) of next week. The 15-degree high temperature on March 5, if correct, would be a record cold high temperature. More impressive is that the European model gives Grand Rapids a high temperature of 8 above Monday. If that is correct, it will be the first time we have not made it out of the single digits during a March day. The cold will linger beyond the first week as well. The latest 8- to 14-day outlook has it continuing through most of the country.
The cold appears to be front-loaded for the month of March. The models hint at temperatures going above average, possibly in the third week and fourth week of March.
Longer daylight hours lead to average temperatures warming through March.
The month of March averages a little over eight inches of snow. I think we could receive that during the first week. Below is the GFS model ten day snow forecast through March 9. With the projected cold, I would think we would receive a decent amount of lake-effect snow, especially next Tuesday. Models this far out tend to under-forecast amounts.
The European model 10-day forecast through March 9:
So of course, this is great news for snow enthusiasts. With the prospect of more cold and snow during March, many ski resorts have already extended their season schedule. This is great news for skiiers not only because you can ski longer, but there tend to be better deals towards seasons end.
As for snowmobilers, this weekend will be phenomenal. As unusual as this may sound, the snow depths across the Lake Superior shoreline are so deep (especially with the drifts from last weekends blizzard), that if you have a standard-track snowmobile, you have to be concerned about getting stuck if you happen to venture off-trail. I have a four-stroke snowmobile that has been a stuck a time or two, and I can assure you that you do not want to get one of those stuck in deep powder.
Fortunately, the groomers have been smoothing out and clearing any downed trees/branches that may have come down across the trails. I finally got my wife out on the snowmobile for the first time last Friday, and we rode through the stunning Jordan Valley trail. This is a picture of Jen and myself next to the Jordan River:
And to cap off a great weekend in the snow, we completed it by skiing with our friends the Cells.
I hope your weekend in the snow will be as safe and fun as ours was.