GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Storm Team 8’s winter outlook held up well against a wild season that featured blizzards, ice storms and thaws.
One of the key pieces of Storm Team 8’s 2022-2023 winter outlook, released in November, was that West Michigan would see a wetter-than-average season. With the exception of November, every month has been wetter than average in Grand Rapids. Both February and March featured nearly double the average precipitation, with March being the second wettest on record with 5.42 inches. Through April 10, Grand Rapids had received over 14 inches of precipitation, the wettest start to the year on record. Over 5 inches of rain within a two-week span in late March and early April, combined with an already saturated ground, has led to widespread river flooding in the past several days.
Wetter than average usually correlates with snowier than average and that was certainly the case for parts of West Michigan. Those in central Kent and eastern Ottawa counties saw particularly heavy snowfall this season. Grand Rapids recorded 110.1 inches of snowfall, the third snowiest on record.
Grand Rapids got off to a snowy start early on, aligning well with the winter outlook, which called for early season lake-effect snow. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell between Nov. 17 and 19, 2022, with two daily snowfall records being broken: Nov. 17 with 7.6 inches and Nov. 19 with 8.7 inches. The month of November finished with 28 inches, enough to place it as the second snowiest on record.
Another early lake-effect snowfall occurred the weekend before Christmas, in which Grand Rapids received over a foot of new snow. This became the precursor to the blizzard that followed less than a week later. Heavy snow, strong winds and bitter wind chills paralyzed most of West Michigan for several days on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. West Michigan saw its first widespread blizzard warning since the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011.
Grand Rapids picked up 2 feet of snow from the blizzard and two daily snowfall records were broken: the 23rd with 7.5 inches and the 24th with 10.5 inches. All that pushed the December snowfall total to 39.6 inches, enough to become the fifth snowiest.
By the end of December, Grand Rapids had already received over 67 inches, one of the snowiest starts to winter on record.
The winter outlook also expressed that mid-winter thaws were likely and a prolonged thaw struck in January. Just 13.5 inches fell in Grand Rapids for the month (over half of which came in one weekend), nearly 10 inches below average. Only eight days had a snow depth of 1 inch or more, far below the average of 22 days. The average temperature for the month was 31.7 inches, the fifth warmest on record. It was also the fifth cloudiest month on record, with just five minutes of sunshine in the first week of January.
February was still warmer than average, but for many, snow was replaced with several wintry messes. Sleet, freezing rain, and wet snow caused additional headaches through the month.
At least one icing event was forecast as part of the outlook and a significant one hit southern Michigan. The first widespread ice storm warning in ten years was issued for areas south of Grand Rapids. Hundreds of thousands lost power as some places near Kalamazoo-Battle Creek-Jackson saw over a half inch of ice. For areas further north, several inches of sleet fell.
The winter was bookended with a snowstorm in early March, in which the Grand Rapids area was once again a bullseye for heavy snow. Nearly a foot of snow fell along the M-6 corridor and a fifth daily snowfall record for the season was broken on March 10 with 8.7 inches. A total of 23.3 inches would fall in the month of March, ranking it as the fourth snowiest on record.
Grand Rapids saw a seasonal total of 110.1 inches of snow, only 6 inches shy of the 2013-14 season and enough for the third snowiest on record. It was a much different story for some outside the Grand Rapids area, though. Muskegon only got 60.1 inches this season, 20 inches below average. While Grand Rapids saw 28 inches in November and 39 in December, Muskegon only received 6.5 and 17.8 inches, respectively. Similarly, Kalamazoo has recorded 59.3 inches of snowfall this season.
Jonathon Joll was selected as the winner of the total snowfall prediction contest.