Snow Conditions Report: Dec. 15, 2017

Matt Kirkwood tests out the fresh snow at Cannonsburg Ski Area on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.

WOOD TV8 News App users: Tap here for the full report, including pictures and maps.

If you happened to tune in a couple of weeks ago, Storm Team 8 mentioned that a full-scale pattern change would arrive. Here’s the evidence: Friday marks the ninth consecutive day with below average temperatures and is also Grand Rapids’ coldest morning (0 degrees) since January.

This map shows the temperature anomaly for this past week.

As a result of the cold, the snow has spread.

This map shows the snow cover as of Dec. 3, 2017.
This map shows the snow cover across Michigan as of Dec. 15, 2017.

Much of the snow has been lake-effect with one stout clipper moving through central and southern Lower Michigan. This is why there isn’t much variation in terms of snow depths between the northern parts of the state and the south. That’s good news for those who don’t want to drive north to play in the snow.

This map shows current snow depth in Upper and Lower Michigan, as of Dec. 15, 2017.
This map shows the snow depth in southern Michigan on Friday, Dec. 15.
This map shows the snow depth in northern Michigan on Friday, Dec. 15.

A weak clipper will ignite mostly light lake effect snow showers on the west side of the state Friday with a general 1 to 4 inches of fresh snowfall. After that, the weekend doesn’t promise much more additional snow, as warmer air tries to move in.

This map shows the additional snow expected between Dec. 16 and 17.

Without question, this will be the best weekend to enjoy snow activities so far this season. I checked various websites for Lower Michigan ski resorts and they’re ready for visitors. Cannonsburg Ski Resort will open Saturday, Dec. 16 and Bittersweet Ski Area will open Friday, from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

My first ski outing with the family was last weekend at Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf Resort and overall it was good skiing. Since last weekend, the snow crews mentioned they have received nearly 30 inches of snow! Because of this, all their runs will be open this weekend.

Over half the runs will be open at Crystal Mountain with an additional 12 scheduled to open Saturday. All the runs and lifts are open at Schuss Mountain as well. If you are quick, you can save big money at Boyne Mountain; on Friday only, when you purchase one ski lift pass, you receive six.

Farther north at Boyne Highlands, at least seventeen runs are open with four lifts and two carpets available to get you to the top. Nubs Nob is now open daily with nearly all their runs ready to be carved on.

For snowmobilers looking to satisfy their itch, the news is getting a little better: I was checking various snow reports and the general consensus is that trails will be “fair” this weekend.

The issue is much of the snow is light, fluffy lake-effect. We need a lower ratio-type snow that will hold up on the trails better. It is getting colder, but there are still plenty of wet areas that need to freeze over.

While most trails will not be able to handle heavy traffic at this stage; my buddies and I will give it a try Friday evening. We are going to head out of Ravenna on Trail 19 and see how far we can take it. I’ll report back.

I think some of the best conditions for snowmobiling will be the Cadillac, Baldwin, Irons and Wellston trail system which is one of the most dense trail networks in the state. If any of my fellow comrades head up that way, I would appreciate a report anytime you have one. Please send it to

As I mentioned, temperatures will warm a bit this week,  but unlike last year, they will not remain that way. What really kills a snow pack is not only warm temperatures, but rain. There appears to be a limited time frame for a chance of rain Thursday, Dec. 21 before it gets cold again.

This map shows the forecast high temperatures for Dec. 15 through Dec. 22.

The cold will return after this week.

This map shows the 8-14 day temperature outlook across the nation.

And will likely continue into the first week of January.

This map shows the temperature anomaly forecast from Dec. 28 through Jan. 3.

Hopefully you have time to have fun in the snow this weekend. Be safe and check back for more snow condition updates.

Matt Kirkwood’s Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Harvey Automotive.