Snow Conditions Report: Feb. 7, 2020

Snow Conditions

I would like to thank Emily Schuitema for filling in for the Snow Conditions Report last week as I I took my own advice and frolicked in the snow across the U.P. Speaking of the U.P., once again that is where you’ll find the most snow to play in.

You can see why snow is so scarce across Lower Michigan. The absence of Arctic air has led to only six days with below-average temperatures this past month, with readings running close to 10 degrees above average the previous two weeks.

As a direct result, seasonal snow amounts continue a substantial deficit. Heading into the weekend, the deficit is over 17 inches in Grand Rapids, 19 inches in Kalamazoo and a whopping 31 inches in Muskegon (very little lake-effect snow this year).

The Lower Michigan snow depth, in inches, as of February 7 is below. Not much has changed in the past week amidst the warm pattern.

  • Cadillac: 7
  • Traverse City: 5
  • Houghton Lake: 7
  • Kalkaska: 8
  • Lake City: 6
  • East Jordan: 12
  • Vanderbuilt: 12
  • Charlevoix: 8
  • Gaylord: 14
  • Waters: 14
  • Cheboygan: 5
  • Petoskey: 4
  • Alpena: 6

Upper Michigan:

  • St. Ignace: 8
  • Soo: 14
  • Newberry: 33
  • Paradise: 26
  • Munising: 26
  • Marquette: 35
  • Big Bay: 25
  • Manistique: 22
  • Houghton: 27
  • Calumet: 41
  • Iron Mtn:. 21
  • Escanaba: 11
  • Painsedale: 51
  • Ironwood: 23

No major storms are expected in the near term, including this weekend. There will be a weak system though that will slide through Sunday and it will deposit widespread snow across the state to freshen things up a bit. Both the European and GFS models are in pretty good agreement on amounts.

GFS snow forecast:

If you have plans to have fun in the snow, temperatures will be quite widespread across the state Saturday.

Temperatures will not be quite as cold across Northern Michigan Sunday.

Yet again this will be a week without a strong intrusion of Arctic air, therefore, little, if any, lake-effect snow. Like much of the winter, Arctic air nips at the Great Lakes but the core stays locked up across Canada.

The result is that temperatures will remain near average for much of the week. The GFS model does bring in Arctic air for Thursday, but I’m not buying it until I notice other models going in that direction.

The pattern should remain relatively active. Notice how Michigan is close to the below-average and above-average temperatures. That places Michigan in the air mass “clash zone.” With a pattern like this, there’s at least the prospect of some snow.

The 8- to 14-day precipitation outlook does reflect this active pattern with above-average precipitation across much of the U.S., including the Great Lakes.

I’m reluctant to show this map because the prospect of a colder and snowier-than-average February looked promising during earlier weeks. The latest February update from CPC has reversed that thinking, so I wanted to update you. Whereas before we had colder-than-average temperatures across Michigan, it now has us at and even slightly above normal. That’s certainly the way the month has started it out.

Last week, I was lucky enough to knock one off of the bucket list, as I always wanted to snowmobile in the Keewanaw Peninsula. The first picture is at the very tip of the peninsula where you can go no further. Trips like this are always enhanced when they can be shared with good friends. Pat Cell and Tony Wedeven are also pictured. Also note the lime green Ski Doo Renegade 850. Thanks to Fox Powersports as they allowed me to demo this amazing snowmobile and it was all I could do to hang on.


Northern Lower Michigan: I was surprised to see that the report from the Cadillac area was actually fairly decent, considering the lack of snow lately. Trails still holding onto an alright base, but it’s very hard-packed and you have to deal with snirt and dry pavement in staging areas, and of course, going into town.

Houghton Lake is still rideable, but not great. If you are in the Prudenville area, check out the Fast Eddies’s Vintage snowmobile race. Grayling is reporting the same crusty trails from daytime sun heating/melting and then nighttime refreeze. Traverse City is reporting poor to good conditions with a 2- to 6-inch base. Indian River trails are rideable as well, but the same issues abound with no new snow for groomers to work with. There are a few bare spots appearing on the railroad grade.

(Side note: As reported above, there will be snow breaking out across nearly all of the state on Sunday with the heaviest snow on Sunday afternoon. For those traveling home, be aware roads will likely become slippery. The earlier you leave Sunday, the better.)

Upper Peninsula: Trails remain good across the Upper Peninsula. Even with lack of snow and all the riders in and around the Brimley and Soo area after the I-500, trails area still reported to be quite good. The Paradise area is reporting that trail 8 is overall good with the exception in the swampy area south of town with a few open holes. I rode this last week and that was the worst section of trail 8 I encountered.

Trail 45 to the Upper Falls was quite choppy as well, so fair at best. This issue is there hasn’t been a decent amount of fresh snow and was either hard or quite sugary, and even though the groomers are hitting them, this type of snow breaks down quicker with traffic. Specifically on Trail 45 3 miles south of M-28 at 4 Corners, lookout for a washout.


Looks good across the state with Mother Nature adding some fresh snow on Sunday. If you are heading north, check out Schuss Mountain and Shanty Creek with all 43 of their trails open. Plus, they have a great program called “Super Sundays.” From 12 p.m. to close, you can purchase a lift ticket for $33 and get rental equipment and a lesson. This is a great way to learn to ski! This program will run through March 15.

All 58 trails are open at Crystal Mountain with 48- to 56-inch base. Boyne Mountain has 60 trails open along with improvements to Ramshead. At Boyne Highlands, there are 53/55 trails open with an average base of 48 inches. Just like the Highlands, Nubs Nob is reporting a solid 53 runs open with a 48-inch base. Caberfae is reporting up to a 58-inch base with 34 slopes open. Cannosburg has 9/22 trails open with up to a 36-inch base. Bittersweet has 20 open runs with a 2-foot base.

Whenever you need an update on snow depth, forecast snow amounts, short- and longer-range temperatures trends, you can always check out my Snow Conditions Report, which is updated every Friday throughout the winter season.


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

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