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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After building snow for the last three weeks, a four-day thaw decimated the snowpack across Lower Michigan.
There’s nothing that will melt snow faster than record warm temperatures and heavy rain. Highs on Thursday were warm enough to claim new record highs in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon through Northern Lower Michigan and even as far north as Sault St. Marie.
Grand Rapids recorded nearly a half of an inch of rain with a record set in Muskegon at 0.85.” Prior to this thaw, we had built up a nice base of 9 inches in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, with fifteen in Muskegon. That’s all gone.
Below is what is left behind. Looking at the trail reports, there is hard-packed snow on some of the trails near Cadillac and Kalkaska, but groomers would like riders to stay off to keep the base so what little snow falls over them can help reestablish them.
Even though the ski resorts lost some of their base, it was thick enough to endure the thaw and with Arctic air settling in once again, they will be able to make additional snow if need be.
If you are willing to truck the sleds to the shores of Lake Superior and ride from M-28 to the north, you will find “fair” to “good” trails. That is what is being reported in Pine Stump to Grand Marais, with three to four feet up there. McMillan to Paradise has a good 15 to 20 inches reported.
Mother nature will help the cause a bit this weekend, but most of the lake effect will be fairly tame — but a little is better than nothing.
If you do plan on skiing or heading to the U.P. to snowmobile, temperatures will be ideal and fortunately not as cold as last weekend.
A clipper will aid this weekend’s lake-effect snow come Sunday night and Monday with more lake effect continuing through Tuesday. At this juncture, I don’t know if it will be enough to get the trails back to riding condition across lower Michigan. The Northwest snow belts have the best chance of that. Fingers crossed for the ones in Allegan and Van Buren counties with a possible 6- to 10-inch forecast there.
Whatever snow does fall will remain on the ground this week.
Unfortunately for the medium range outlook, my tone will be a bit somber. If you happened to catch Storm Team 8’s winter forecast projection, we mention that in weak to moderate La Nina winters, you start out cold and then there is typically a strong January (mid-winter) thaw. Once we get beyond this week, that is what appears will loom ahead of us for the second half of January.
I understand this prognostication is not what snow enthusiasts want to hear, but a winter thaw more often than not does occur during a Michigan winter. I like to end this report with an optimistic tone, so with that being said, weak to moderate La Nina winters typically return to cold during February and linger through much of March.
Matt Kirkwood’s Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Harvey Automotive.