Snow Conditions Report: Jan. 21, 2021

This is the best Snow Conditions Report that I’ve had so far this season and it comes slightly past the mid-point of winter. The good news is it looks like the second half of winter will be kinder to snow lovers out there. Here’s one of the main reasons why we’ve had so little of the white gold.

Only two days during the month of January have been below average. This winter, 76% of the days have been above average, in terms of temperatures. The warm temperatures and minimal lake-effect snow has put us in the snow hole we are currently in.

As I write this, we are coming off a nice snow from Tuesday night. Remarkably, it was only the fourth time this winter season that we’ve received and inch or more snow in a calendar day. Currently, 94% of the state is covered with snow with an average depth of 4.7 inches.

Below are a few snow depth reports for various locations around the state. Snow depths are gradually improving and during this colder stretch of weather, they will continue to improve through the weekend and beyond. There’s still not enough snow for snowmobiling across southern Michigan’s trail network, but there is enough in some areas to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, if you desire.

Lake-effect snow has finally kicked in a bit, and Northern Michigan’s snowbelt areas are getting enough to play in.

Sub-freezing temperatures through the weekend will allow us to keep what we have on the ground. In addition, we’ll add to it with mostly light, lake-effect snow on Friday and system snow on Sunday.

A cold front dropping through early Friday will jump-start the lake-effect snow again with a northwest component to the wind.

Saturday should bring some sun to the area, with a sprawling high-pressure system across the Great Lakes. Clear skies expected Friday night and Saturday morning will lead to one of the coldest mornings so far this winter. Wake-up readings will be in single digits and teens on Saturday morning.

We’ll end the weekend with system snow moving in that should add to the snowpack statewide.

Forecast snow amounts aren’t through the roof, but considering how the first half of winter went, we’ll take all that we can get.

If you plan on playing in the white stuff this weekend, here are the projected daytime highs. Saturday will be the cooler of the two days with most of Lower Michigan peaking in the 20s.

Highs in the 20s and 30s can be expected on Sunday as light snow arrives.

SKIERS:

This should turn out to be one of the best weekends of the winter to date. Post MLK Weekend, the slopes shouldn’t be as busy. The wind will remain relatively light both days. Bring your tinted snow goggles on Saturday as I expect some sunshine. You’ll want them to fend off light snow Sunday.

Bittersweet: All runs are open. Hours of operation Friday: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cannonsburg: One of the best weekends this winter. Most slopes open with hours of operation Friday: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tubing is now open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Caberfae: Five lifts are open, providing access to 32/34 runs. Hours of operation are as follows: Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
*Side note: Make sure to check if lift tickets are available before you drive north.

Crystal Mountain: Eight lifts are open, providing access to 44 of its 58 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This weekend’s event calendar has the CCSC Invitational on Lower Gorge, Buck and Thor between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
*Side note: Make sure to check if lift tickets are available before you drive north.

Schuss Mountain: Five of the eight runs are open, providing access to 29 out of 42 runs. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
*Side note: Make sure to check if lift tickets are available before you drive north.

Boyne Mountain: Eight of 12 lifts are open, providing access to 33 out of 60 runs. Hours of operation: Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Boyne Highlands: Eight of 10 lifts are open, providing access to 42 out of 55 runs. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Special event this weekend includes Homecoming Weekend Friday through Sunday along with the Sno-Go Hot Cocoa Hustle on Saturday.

Nubs Nob: Five lifts are open, servicing 52 out of 53 runs. Friday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and reopening 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (except Sunday).

Here’s a view from Caberfae Peaks on Thursday morning:

SNOWMOBILERS:

Finally, some better news for us snowmobilers. I’ve watched more dust accumulate on my sled than snow this winter. If you are willing to travel north, you’ll be greeted with a few decent trail conditions, depending where you go. Scanning Fishweb and various Facebook reports, this is what I’ve come up with from south to north. (Thanks to all for your reports and please keep them coming).

Northern Lower: Mike in Baldwin suggests going a little further north into the Cadillac area as he notes poor trail conditions. Pete and Jacob say the trails are in overall good condition around Cadillac. There’s quite a bit of snirt near Coyote Crossings and the Caberfae trailhead, though. Be careful in corners as some have become icy. There was bad incident reported the other night, so please stay right in the corners!

Ryan Thomas mentioned his excursion from Mancelona to Frederic and Blue Bear wasn’t great, with a lot of snirt and wiped-out trails. Petoskey and the Indian River trails have finally come on line with just enough snow to ride. It’s not much better on the other side of I-75. Houghton Lake and Grayling are reporting poor trail conditions. My buddy Jeremy was up there last weekend, and he said if you know any of the back-country trails, you’ll be greeted with snow depths of 5 to 9 inches.

Eastern Upper Peninsula: Jim Short had a good report out of the Soo and Brimley area with a lot of fresh snow recently. Per usual, the trail conditions improve as you get closer to Lake Superior. For instance, if you are in Newberry, trails improve quite a bit as you head north from Halfway Lake. Grand Marais, Paradise and Munising are looking better as well. Groomers panned from Shingleton to Christmas the other day.

An Arctic cold front will only improve conditions as healthy, lake-effect snow showers develop Thursday and Thursday overnight night and gradually becoming lighter Saturday. Again, a system snow arrives Sunday with a general 2-5 inches.

I’m very happy at the latest 10-day snow forecast from the European and GFS models. It indicates more robust snow falling in the lake-effect areas through the end of January.

The snow that falls this week should stick around with the coldest week of winter on the horizon.

Although 8- to 14-day outlook doesn’t have any Arctic air in play, I still think the U.P. will be in play for much of the rest of the winter season.

Precipitation is forecast to be near normal so we will see how much falls as rain or snow. During this time-frame, we average a little over 4 inches of snow.

Until next week, think snow!


The Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Jacobson Heating & Cooling.