Snow Conditions Report: Jan. 7, 2021

Snow Conditions

I was hoping for better news for the snow conditions report this week as we flip to calendar to 2021. Instead, we are in this mode. The photo below is of me and my wife last weekend in Petoskey during a ski vacation. Thank goodness for snow-making machines. I’ll have more on ski conditions later.

The snow deficit is historic and will continue to grow through the weekend. The deficit in Grand Rapids going into the weekend is nearly 27 inches and 29 for Muskegon. Grand Rapids snowfall is only 22% to average! Both will slip into the 30+ inch deficit range by the time we get more snow.

At first glance, the current snow depth map looks decent. But very few areas have enough snow to take advantage of and it will continue to shrink this week. The average snow depth is 4.7 inches.

Here’s a few snow depth reports for various cities/towns. Keep in mind, with temperatures near freezing with sunshine we’ll only loose, we won’t add snowpack this weekend.

There are couple of reasons for the snow drought. One, has been the absence of Arctic air, therefore resulting in very little lake-effect snow. Temperatures this month in Grand Rapids are just over six degrees warmer than average and 4.7 for the winter.

Less cold means less lake-effect snow. Notice how little the difference is between cities on the east and west side of Lake Michigan. Green Bay, Wis. actually has MORE snow than Traverse City.

During many winters in the past, if the snow wasn’t great in Lower Michigan, you could hike across the bridge and find good snow. Unfortunately, the Central and Eastern U.P. have suffered as well. Both Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie are running two feet below average.

Unfortunately, there’s no significant snow in the forecast for the entire week. Not only are temperatures expected above average but the jetstream is in a blocking pattern. This is diverting systems north and south of Michigan.

The result is this pathetic 7-day snowfall forecast through Jan. 13. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen this before, where less than an inch of snow is forecast for the entire state during the heart of winter.

If you are planning to ski, things are looking good, pretty muchmaintaining the status quo from the previous weekend. My family was up at Boyne Highlands the previous week and most runs are open. Here’s the breakdown of other area Ski Resorts.

Bittersweet: Seven of 20 runs open. Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cannonsburg: Mostly slopes open with hours of operation of 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 34 runs. Hours of operation are as follows: Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Crystal Mountain: Seven of the eight lifts are open, providing access to 36 of its 58 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Schuss Mountain: Five of the eight runs are open, providing access to 27 out of 42 runs. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Boyne Mountain: Ten out of 12 lifts are open, providing access to 28 out of 60 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Boyne Highlands: Eight out of 10 lifts are open, providing access to 34 out of 55 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Nubs Nob: Five lifts are open, servicing 53 out of 53 runs. Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. No night skiing on Sunday evenings.

This season has been a true struggle for snowmobilers. The struggle will continue one more weekend before I think the pattern will improve. Here’s the breakdown of the trails. If I don’t mention a certain area, it’s not ridable right now.

Lower Michigan

Cadillac area: Trail conditions range from poor to good. Corners and exposed areas are getting snirty with some rocks cropping up. Trails shaded more in the woods are holding up better. (Thanks for the report, Pete).

East Jordan to Indian River: During my trip back from Petoskey, I was able to observe the trail next to US-131 near Mancelona. It was snirt, and that was last weekend. No snow since then.

If you are thinking of heading up this weekend, I would either hold off until next weekend or ride in the Houghton Lake and Roscommon area. That’s were the most snow is located in Lower Michigan (and most of the U.P.) My friend and his wife rode around there last weekend and although it was thin in spots, it was still a good ride. Groomers have been out as well. The latest report out of Grayling is not as good though, with poor conditions being reported.

Upper Peninsula: Reports across the Eastern U.P. range from good to poor. Here are some specifics. Trail 45 is closed at County Rd. 500 due to water hazard. Trail 2 and 9 are reportedly poor to good. It’s recommended that if you’re in Newberry, you are better off trailering north out of town, closer to Pine Stump. If you are riding near Paradise, caution is advised on Trail 452, as a swampy area hasn’t frozen sufficiently. Trail 8 conditions from Paradise to Pine Stump are reportedly poor to good. My friend Jeremy took this picture last weekend between Strongs and Brimley.

Trails are in similar condition around Munising to Grand Marais. The report is that Trail 8 is running ragged due to last weekend’s heavy traffic east of Grand Marais to Pine Stump.

I can assure you I’ll have a much more optimistic report for next weekend, as all the models have the weather pattern changing to snowier and colder conditions by then.

I just hope the remaining snow doesn’t get completely wiped out. Fingers crossed. Until then, think snow!


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

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