Snow Conditions Report: Dec. 29, 2017

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Last week when I wrote my snow conditions report, there was only a trace of snow on the ground in Grand Rapids.

I was optimistic as Storm Team 8 could see a pattern change that would be much more favorable for snow and cold. Since then, temperatures in Grand Rapids have been 12 degrees below average and we received a little over 10 inches of snow.

Conditions across Michigan improved as well. We went from 74 percent statewide snow cover on Friday, Dec. 22 to 99 percent a week later, with an average snow depth of 6 inches.

Michigan snow cover as of Friday Dec. 29.

Snow depth has increased to 5 inches in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and up to 11 inches in Muskegon, with more expected to fall through the weekend.

Snow depth in southern Michigan, as of Dec. 29, 2017.
Snow depth in northern Michigan, as of Dec. 29, 2017.

More snow should also fall in the week ahead.

Snowfall forecast for this weekend.
The 10-day snowfall forecast from the European model. (WeatherBell)

I could tell by checking out the latest trails reports throughout the state that there’s a much more optimistic tone this weekend. Even in the trails near Allegan and Kalamazoo, conditions have improved dramatically.  Still, look out for some open spots in the fields, especially where they are exposed to the wind.

Southern Michigan will be fair with more snow expected to fall Friday night. The Musketawa trail of Ravenna-Muskegon just received a fresh 6-12 inches of snow, and more will fall through Saturday.

Further north, the groomers/riders are reporting good conditions along the Baldwin trail system. Heavy riding in and around Cadillac has led to some snirty conditions deep in the woods and turns, but overall the situation is quite good. Some riders are reporting the Cadillac trail system is a little smoother than the Wellston trails, but it will just take a groomer to improve that.

A total of 1-2 feet of snow has fallen over the Mancelona, Petoskey and Indian River areas, including the Blue Bear, Jordan Valley trail network into Gaylord. In general, good to excellent conditions are being reported. I received a report from Dr. Eric that he rode 70 miles in and around Wolverine and said it was the best he’s ridden in years.

The trails over to Lewiston, Lovells, Houghton Lake and Grayling are coming around as well. A fresh 4-5 inches of snow has recently fallen up there, with another 2-5 inches on the way. Until just recently, the eastern Upper Peninsula has not received much more snow than the northern Lower Peninsula, but that has changed along the Lake Superior shoreline, leading to a drastic improvement on the trail network from Trout Lake and Paradise to Brimley. So pick your trail and have fun.

Keep in mind, it will be exceptionally cold this weekend and the snow that has fallen is very light. That means the snowmobiles will really kick up a white snow screen, so try not to travel too close. Lights on the rear of helmets are really helpful when riding in packs. I purchased a cheap LED light and just attached it with Velcro.

If skiing or riding, dress as warm as possible. High temperatures Saturday will only be in the teens and it will feel even colder with a fairly strong wind. I expect subzero wind chills through the weekend. It won’t be as windy Sunday, but actual temperatures will be in the single digits across most of the state.

Forecasted high temperatures for Saturday, Dec. 30.
Forecasted high temperatures for Sunday, Dec. 31.

The great news is that whatever snow falls throughout the state, it will stick around as temperatures remain below freezing for the next couple of weeks, at least.

Expected high temperatures through Jan. 4.
The 8-14 day temperature outlook through Jan. 11.
The European model’s temperature anomaly through Jan. 14. (WeatherBell)

I do think a January thaw will develop the third or fourth week of January. This is fairly typical of weak to moderate La Nina years. Below is an indication of that.

The European model’s temperature anomaly through Jan. 28. (WeatherBell)

Overall, in terms of relative to average, and how consistently cold we will be, I think the three weeks of winter from Dec. 25 through Jan. 14 might be the best for cold and snow and outdoor winter activities.


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