Well, it was short and sweet and thank goodness we had February. Essentially, it was the month that saved winter for snow enthusiasts. February nearly doubled the amount of snow that November, December and January brought us, combined.
As I write this, February will end up tied with 1994 as the sixth snowiest on record. Even with that snowy stat, we will close out February with a winter snowfall deficit close to 20 inches in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and nearly 40 inches in Muskegon!
This past week, temperatures eclipsed 40 degrees for the first time in more than a month. This was accompanied with sunshine at times that helped eat away at the snowpack. The average statewide snowdepth is at 9 inches with the thinnest areas in the southeast and northeast Lower Michigan.
Grand Rapids had a peak snow depth of 14 inches a week ago, and that has been cut in half.
Typically, the snowbelt regions of northern Lower Michigan and Lake Superior have an abundance of snow by this time of year, but that is not the case as we head into March. They, too, are suffering significant snow deficits.
A couple of weak systems will move through late Friday night into Saturday morning and later Sunday. This first system will clear out quickly, and I think we’ll return to partial sunshine during the afternoon.
The second system will bring a better chance of precipitation across the northern sections of the state. Both will have heavy, wet snow chances with rain mixed in at times.
Compared to previous weekends, snow amounts will not be impressive. A general trace to an inch will be possible north of Grand Rapids through the U.P.
A few locations in the U.P. could exceed 3 inches.
If you are skiing this weekend, you can probably do it with a spring jacket or a hardy sweatshirt as highs are expected in the 40s on Saturday. For snowmobilers, this will not be great for your machines as they typically don’t like it to be this warm.
A glancing blow of cooler temperatures will sweep across the extreme northern part of the state on Sunday. There will be quite a temperature spread throughout the state with highs in the 50s along the Michigan-Indiana state line and 30s across the eastern U.P.
The future temperature trend does not look favorable for my fellow snow lovers. Highs consistently above average and above freezing through the week.
The 8- to 14-day outlook has this carrying over through March 11. I would expect the first 50 degree readings during this timeframe. Note the average high is above 40 degrees at this point.
Few things melt snow faster than warm air and rain, and it looks as if that maybe the combo in early March.
Although I think we certainly will get more snow, the CPC indicates that the month of March overall may turn out above average. My hope is that we get a renegade snowstorm within the month to get one more ride on the snowmobile in. It happened after a warm winter in 2012.
A check of ski resorts across the state we are looking good with near 100% of slopes and lifts open. When the snow pops out Saturday with highs in the 40s, conditions will turn sloppy and slushy.
***If you haven’t already purchased your lift tickets, make sure to call ahead. Caberfae, Crystal Mountain, Schuss Mountain, and Boyne Mountain have sold out for Saturday day lift tickets. Night skiing will be offered through the weekend.
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. and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
CANNONSBURG: Hours of operation: Friday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tubing is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets must be reserved online.
CABERFAE: Hours of operation are Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN: Hours of operation: Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
SCHUSS MOUNTAIN: Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
BOYNE MOUNTAIN: Hours of operation: Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
NUBS NOB: Hours of operation: Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
SOUTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN: It wouldn’t be great riding but if you get out Friday evening into early Saturday, you might be able to find ridable conditions with sections of trails and some field action in and around Ravenna over to Muskegon.
NORTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN: The Cadillac area near Coyote, Boon and South Mesick are the best trail riding going into weekend. Trails near Kaleva, Thompsonville, Wellston and Traverse City to Kalkaska are not looking good. The best trails across Lower Michigan will be found from M-32 to the north where they received a decent snow early during the week. Petoskey, Wolverine to Indian River will offer the best riding this weekend.
NORTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN: Trails are poor in and around the Grayling and Houghton Lake area. As long as it remains above freezing groomers will not be out as the heavy wet snow just clogs the drags.
EASTERN U.P.: The ice bridge is out. A local fell through but was rescued Thursday. If you want to check out the blue ice in the Straits, enter from the lakeshore. The trails are rated in good condition in the Soo to Paradise and Grand Marais areas. Paradise has all their groomers in action again. With sunshine and warmer temperatures arriving Saturday afternoon, my best advice it to sled Friday night and early Saturday morning.
When you can’t get out on the trails, sometimes option B is riding a local lake — as long as the ice is thick enough (5+ inches). That’s what my family did this past Sunday. Love to see my kids on a snowmobile.
Realistically, this might be the last semi-decent weekend of riding. As I mentioned above, temperatures will not cooperate and the higher sun angle this time of year will continue to eat away at the snow. It’s already challenging getting into and out of restaurants and gas stations in towns.
This will be my last Snow Conditions Report of the season. I want to personally thank everyone who shares my passion for snow and takes the time to check out my report. Let’s hope for a better season next year!
Special thanks to Fox Powersports for allowing me to demo this yellow Ski Doo Renegade 850. It’s as fast as it is bright. Don’t forget to snowcheck yours for next season.
The Snow Conditions Report is sponsored by Jacobson Heating & Cooling.