Snow Conditions Report: Jan. 14, 2021

Snow Conditions

Last week, I was full of optimism about this coming weekend as it looked cold and snowy. It still does, just not as cold and snowy as I was hoping.

Let’s begin with the bad. No question this winter has been a trying one for anyone who enjoys snow. Thank goodness for skiers as the snow-making machines have been working in overdrive. For snowmobilers, it has been brutal.

As we head into this weekend, the snow deficits are exceeding 30 inches in Grand Rapids and nearly three feet in Muskegon! Lake Superior snow belts are not fairing any better. The Soo’s deficit is 2.5 feet and Marquette’s is closing in on 3 feet.

The lack of snow has positioned Southwest Michigan near historic levels. We are now solely in third place for least amount of snow. Former WOOD TV8 Chief Meterologist Craig James, mentioned in the beginning of the previous century the NWS only measured snow once a day as opposed to twice a day now. Therefore we could actually be closer to the first spot. The reasoning: back in 1905 to 1907, snow could fall and then melt within that 24-hour timeframe before the next measurement was made.

Once again, temperatures are one of the primary culprits to the snow drought. So far for January, we’re running more than 5 degrees above average. Incredible to think that the biggest 24-hour snow of the season in Grand Rapids has been 3.7 inches. Last year was running below average but we still had 22 inches for the season to date.

Yes, 85% of the state is covered with snow but the average depth is only 3.5 inches. If you are deeper in the woods up north, you can probably find some areas to cross country ski or snow shoe but not so much for snowmobiling.

Here’s a few snow depth reports for various cities/towns. No one south of Big Rapids has more than 3 inches on the ground and the only location in the U.P. where I could find more than 10 inches is Calumet, which has 14 inches. Those are pathetic amounts for the middle of winter.

OK, how about some better (not great) news going forward? After a week without any measurable precipitation, the pattern will become a little more active. An upper-level low will swing through the region this weekend, providing us with cooler temperatures and mostly light snow.

It appears there will be a few waves of snow, possibly mixed with rain, moving through Saturday.

There will be a better chance of accumulating snow for areas from Grand Rapids to the south on Sunday.

After Tuesday, the remainder of the week looks fairly uneventful.

So, the million-dollar question: how much snow are we potentially going to squeeze out? Here’s the weekend snowfall forecast for Grand Rapids from a few various models. Not overly impressive, but about 1 inch to 3 inches in most areas will cover it.

Here’s the 5-day forecast through Tuesday:

Here’s the 15-day forecast through Jan. 30. It’s a little more promising and indicates a more consistent weather-pattern change to colder and snowier conditions.

SKIERS

Bittersweet: All runs are open. Hours of operation Friday: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cannonsburg: Most slopes open with hours of operation Friday: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tubing is now open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Caberfae: Five lifts are open providing access to 32/34 runs. Hours of operation are as follows: Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
*Side note: All lift tickets sold out for Saturday and Sunday. There are still some available for night skiing on Sunday.

Crystal Mountain: Eight lifts are open, providing access to 41 of its 58 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Events this weekend include World Snow Day, which helps introduce beginners to skiing.
*Side note: All lift tickets sold out for Saturday and Sunday. There’s still some available for night skiing on Sunday.

Schuss Mountain: Five of the eight runs are open, providing access to 42 out of 42 runs. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
*Side note: All lift tickets sold out for Saturday and Sunday. There are still some available for night skiing on Sunday.

Boyne Mountain: Ten out of 12 lifts are open, providing access to 31 out of 60 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Boyne Highlands: Seven out of 10 lifts are open, providing access to 44 out of 55 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Special event this weekend includes Bourbon and Bacon slopeside. If you want to compete, there’s the Sizzler Slopestyle Competition.

Nubs Nob: Five lifts are open, servicing 53 out of 53 runs. Friday through Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and reopens from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Here’s a shot at the top of Blue Ski Doo at Schuss Mountain. Nice to see the snow in and around the Mancelona and Bellaire area.

High temperatures for this time of year will be quite tolerable. Highs Saturday will in the 30s.

Highs Sunday will be a little cooler in the 20s across Northern Michigan.

SNOWMOBILERS

I wish I had better news. I checked out trail reports across the Northern Lower, Central and Eastern U.P. of Michigan. There’s no good news as all trails are being reported in poor condition. If you stayed in and around the Houghton Lake area last weekend, you could do it. My buddies did that.

But with all the traffic last weekend in a confined area, along with the lack of snow, has made the trails very snirty with numerous bare spots. I suppose you could trailer all the way up to the Munising area, but that’s a long way to go for marginal trail conditions.

I do believe the second half of January will be better as temperatures at least look as if they will return closer to average with more chances of snow.

Until next week, think snow!


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

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