West Michigan Digs Deeper Into A Snow Deficit

This winter seems to be a lot like last year…the only records we’re setting and breaking are for rainfall amounts and high temperatures. The most recent was 57 degrees in Grand Rapids on Saturday breaking the 2005 record of 55. While many of us love these easy-going low-snow winters, there are plenty who feel differently. The folks that plow, Pando, Cannonsburg, just to name a short few. In talking with farmers “on the ridge” in Comstock Park and Kent County, some are becoming increasingly concerned about the mild winter and the possibility of premature budding. Some fruit trees need about 1,000 hours of temperatures around 40 degrees to prevent an early spring growth. It’s still too early to tell if that will become an issue, but we certainly are way behind in snowfall. Take a look at the numbers:

  • Grand Rapids has recorded 9.4 inches of snow so far this season. An average/normal season would have been 38.4 inches. A deficit of 29 inches.
  • Muskegon has recorded 8.7 inches so far this season. An average/normal season would have been 46.8 inches. A deficit of 38.1 inches.
  • Lansing has recorded 5.2 inches of snow so far. A normal/average season would have been 22.7 inches. A deficit of 17.5 inches.

Notice how much the season average falls the further inland we go with less lake enhancement and influence. While the season snowfall average is off quite a bit, it doesn’t sound as bad when we look at the observed liquid precipitation for these same sites. By the way, these are the official climate reporting stations for the National Weather Service, so the best, most comprehensive data is available for these particular locations. Here’s the liquid numbers as of January first:

  • Grand Rapids recorded 33.85 inches of precipitation in 2012. A deficit of 4.4 inches.
  • Muskegon recorded 31.59 inches of precipitation in 2012. A deficit of only 1.9 inches.
  • Lansing recorded 28.41 inches of precipitation. A deficit of 3.36 inches.

It’s no secret Lake Michigan is sitting at/near record low water levels right now. The fact that we lacked a significant winter last year, will probably lack another one this year, certainly didn’t help the cause. Low water levels can have a major impact on Michigan tourism, not to mention create tough launching conditions for boaters. Commercial shipping may also be impacted by the lower water levels across the Great Lakes. On the other economic side of the spectrum, county road commissions can save/bank a ton of unused money to be used later in the year for road maintenance and repair…funds that would have normally been spent on snow removal.

As a meteorologist, I can say that a cooler week is in store for West Michigan over the next several days. There are only marginal chances for accumulating snowfall this week, mainly on Wednesday and Thursday with weak clipper systems dropping in from Canada. Follow all of the weather, including satellite, radar, temperatures, and the 7-day forecast by going to www.fox17online.com/weather. Have a pleasant week.

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