GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan winters are usually marked by plenty of snow but also plenty of unpredictability.

Meteorologists often use averages to help compare how active or tame a winter has been, but it is rare for a season to stick close to average for everything.

Below, see the stats from West Michigan’s last 10 winters:


After a slow start to winter, the most snow fell in February — just over 30 inches that month. The snow made its final appearance on April 15, followed by days of April rain. The combined moisture from melting snow and widespread rain was enough to cause some of the worst flooding ever seen on the Grand River. One thousand people were evacuated from Plaza Towers in downtown Grand Rapids as the river swelled outside of its banks.

  • Total snow: 66.0 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 36.4 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 22.4%
  • Last recorded snow of season: April 25


This winter season is considered the most severe on record for West Michigan due to the consistent cloudiness, cold and snow. Most winter seasons in Michigan have some ebb and flow but 2013-2014 was a constant barrage of systems and storms. After a slow start in October and November, the atmosphere unloaded. December dropped 37 inches of snow, followed by 42 inches in January and 30 inches in February. That three-month winter stretch only delivered 20% of all possible sunshine. Lake Michigan almost completely froze over.

  • Total snow: 116.0 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 27.3 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 92.9%
  • Last recorded snow: April 15


The first flakes of this winter season arrived on Halloween, a spooky reminder of the previous season’s power. November was a heavy hitter with much colder than usual temperatures. The month dropped 31 inches of snow and averaged 6 degrees colder than usual. December suddenly flipped warm, with an inch of snow falling the entire month. A fairly normal January led to the coldest February on record, coming in a whopping 13.5 degrees colder than usual. The flip-flopping season ended up delivering a near-average snow total.

  • Total snow: 78.1 inches
  • Average December to February High Temperature: 29.0 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 72.8%
  • Last recorded snow: April 22


This winter had a slow start but then refused to end. After two very cold winter seasons, this one was much milder. Much of this was due to a very warm December. November averaged 5.9 degrees warmer than usual with December a full 9.9 degrees warmer than normal. This was the year we hit 60 degrees the two days before Christmas. January saw 21 inches of snow with almost 15 inches in February. March threw down 10 inches and winter refused to release its grip. April collected another 9 inches of snow with the final trace of flurries falling on May 15.

Inside a Michigan Department of Transportation snowplow on I-94 on Feb. 12, 2016.
  • Total snow: 61.1 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 37.8 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 26.7%
  • Last recorded snow: May 15


Winter was once again slow out the gate with the fourth warmest November on record. November averaged about 5.5 degrees warmer than usual. The weather turned in December with a hefty 37 inches of snow. January was abysmally cloudy with 22 out of the 31 days featuring 0% possible sunshine. With all the cloudiness, only 15 inches of snow fell in January. February was the warmest on record averaging 7.9 degrees warmer than usual. April 6 was the final snow.

  • A Dec. 12, 2016 photo of a snow-covered bridge in West Michigan. (ReportIt)
  • Total snow: 60.1 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 36.4 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 18.1%
  • Last recorded snow: April 6
A surfer on Lake Michigan at Grand Haven on Dec. 14, 2016. (Todd Maertz/ReportIt)


This winter season came on the heels of the wettest October ever recorded, with a whopping 9.69 inches of rain. The first flurries fell near Halloween, as they frequently do at the start of a West Michigan season. December once again delivered with 33 inches of snow. January was relatively dry with only 12 inches. February started strong with 20 inches falling near the start of the month, but then flipped to very warm limiting snow accumulations. A few inches fell in March but this winter season’s near-average snowfall was mostly attributed to a fairly strong December.

  • Total snow: 77.7 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 33.4 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 51.2%
  • Last recorded snow: April 18
A snowy Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon following an April snow storm. (April 15, 2018)


The polar vortex came to play at the end of January and early February 2019, one of the most significant events to hit the state since the Groundhog’s Day Blizzard of 2011. Almost 4 inches of snow fell on Nov. 10 and 14 inches fell for the month. Then December rolled in with a wimpy total of only 3.2 inches. January filled the void with 30 inches of snow and extreme cold at the end of the month. The polar vortex’s arrival was so significant that schools and businesses closed for several days. Road salt was virtually ineffective with roads icing fast under the bitterly cold conditions causing slide-offs and accidents for those that braved the dangerous conditions. Jan. 30 only had a high temperature of 2 degrees. Jan. 31 had a high temperature of 4 degrees. Wind chills were near -30 degrees to as low as -40 degrees. February followed with 20 inches of snow and the first Blizzard warning in almost a decade for our area. Stackable snow arrived as late as April 14.

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  • Total snow: 81.3 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 32.8 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 55.8%
  • Last recorded snownow: April 15


This season also began with some Halloween snowflakes. Spooky how that frequently seems to happen. November was much colder than usual coming in -5.5 degrees compared to average and dropping 7 inches of snow. December flipped to 4 degrees warmer than average but still delivered about 21 inches of snow. January was the big winner for snow this season. Almost 33 inches of snow fell. Lake effect snow was pretty lackluster this year with almost all the snow falling from storm systems instead of lake-generated.

Fog over snowy Ravenna on Feb. 16, 2020. (Courtesy Jennie Logan – ReportIt)
  • Total snow: 53.5 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 35.9 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 17.2%
  • Last recorded snow: April 16


The first flakes were spotted on Oct. 30, followed by a record stretch of warmth for November. Highs from Nov. 6 to 10 landed consistently in the 70s (70, 71, 74, 77, 74) delaying fall color significantly. Only 0.4 inches of snow fell in November and December didn’t do much to help. Only 4.4 inches fell for the final month of 2020. January saw a modest 15 inches before February finally brought some cold. The second month of the year was below average by a full 6 degrees and produced just over 30 inches of snow. February virtually saved the winter season. Snow totals were significantly under the average for our region with very little lake-effect snow for our lakeshore areas. While West Michigan came in quite low for snow, many others in surrounding states and even the Upper Peninsula did not experience our same deficit.

White Pine Trail just north of Grand Rapids on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kyle McIllmurray/WOOD TV8)
  • Total snow: 46.1 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 33.2 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 33.2%
  • Last recorded snow: April 21


The first day of November brought our first taste of snow with 9 inches falling over the entire month. December only dropped about 10 inches of snow, followed by almost 26 inches in January. A few big systems were the only reason this season was close to average. February produced about 19 inches with a few April events bringing up the rear. Still, after two very low-snow years, the winter of 2021-2022 was a welcome sight to Michiganders who love winter sports. This was one of the best winter seasons in years to feature consistently cold (but not bitterly cold) temperatures allowing for the snowpack to hang on longer for skiers and snowmobilers and ice to stay safer for fishermen.

A snowy Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids on Jan. 11, 2022.
  • Total snow: 71.0 inches
  • Average December to February high temperature: 33.6 degrees
  • Maximum ice coverage on Lake Michigan: 37.4%
  • Last recorded snow: April 26

This coming season also features a La Nina signal in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which can have a pretty noticeable impact on winter conditions in America. However, this is the first time this century the globe has experienced a La Nina for three winters in a row, which makes it difficult to find historically similar comparisons.

Still, there are additional indicators of what this winter may bring. For an expert analysis of what to expect, check out this season’s Storm Team 8 Winter Outlook.