Grand Rapids headed toward 2nd snowiest winter ever

February 18th, 2014 at 2:56 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

snow jack martin 2 17 14 near whiteout   This picture from Jack Martin shows the heavy snowfall Monday afternoon.  Both Grand Rapids (5.6″) and Muskegon (6.2″) set daily snowfall records yesterday (the second daily snowfall record  in the last two weeks for G.R.   Grand Rapids topped 100″ for the season last night.  Most areas had around 5-7″ of new snow with a couple reports of 9″ and a little less toward Lansing and Jackson.  As of midnight, G.R. had 100.5″, making this the 8th snowiest winter ever.  Average snowfall will easily get us to 2nd place and I think we still have an outside chance to challenge the snowiest year ever in G.R.  During the winter of 1951-52, we had 132″ of snow at the airport and 144″ in downtown G.R.  Joe Bastardi tweeted this out last night:  “The ECWMF (European model) weeklies tonight give little hope for a warm U.S. in March. As a matter of fact, they are brutal looking.”    If we hang onto the cold air well into March (peak ice on the Great Lakes may not come until the 2nd week of March if the cold lasts) and hold a decent snow cover over frozen ground, the chance of a sudden warm-up and significant flood will increase.  Remember, the major floods on the Grand River have come in pairs (1904. 1905 and 1947, 1948…so, 2013 and 2014?).

I looked at the two years we had the big tornadoes in the G.R. area, 1956 (Standale) and 1965 (Palm Sunday).  In 1964-65 we had over 100″ of snow for the winter, including 36″ in March.  That March was also the 4th coldest March ever in G.R.  In 1956, March was 3.8° colder than average with over 11″ of snow.  In 1956, we had a wet spring with 4.39″ of precipitation in March and 6.49″ in April.

In the meantime, model data:  The NAM (caribou) gives G.R. a high of 33.3 today and 31.9 on Weds. (a little cool in my book), with a SSW wind of 19 mph during the late afternoon.  That model gives G.R. a high of 41 with 0.56″ of rain (very brief freezing rain at 31° at the start) on Thursday.  The rain/freezing rain starts in G.R. after the morning commute, it’s raining for the evening commute on Thurs.   Everything freezes up Thurs. night.  The GFS plot has 1/10th inch of snow Tues. night, then a whopping  1.32″ of mostly rain (an inch of that is snow Thurs. night).  Then about 2″ of snow Friday night/Sat. am.   It has very cold air over Michigan from Saturday thru the end of the month.   The European gives G.R. 0.44″ of rain then about an inch of snow Fri. am…and it’s down to 5° next Monday am.

Season snowfall:  101″ G.R., 120″ Muskegon, 96″ Kalamazoo.  Will update these in the late morning.

183 Responses to “Grand Rapids headed toward 2nd snowiest winter ever”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Updated Detroit NWS stats on the winter so far. Detroit already the 3rd snowiest ever, and Flint hit #10. Flint and Detroit are now 5th coldest ever so far.

  2. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    43 degrees in Chicago already

    1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      They’re overdue just like us. Only their second above average day this month. Hoping that warmth comes our way. :-)

  3. Cort S. says:

    Check out these maps for the Thursday storm system:

    1. Holly says:

      Do the models for severe weather include the impact of 24″ or so of snow still on the ground?

      1. Cort S. says:

        Somewhat, at least. Modeling isn’t my area of expertise, but I do know that models define parameters for current ground snow and lake ice at the start of each run (along with a lot of other variables we might not think about). Really quite impressive how much information about the earth, ocean, and atmosphere you have to throw into a model in order to have any hope of it being correct.

        Areas south of Indianapolis will have no problem getting severe weather because of the strong dynamics and best combination of ingredients with this system. In theory, not just with this storm but with any winter storm, if things line up perfectly for West Michigan, we too could get severe weather with a powerful-enough warm front. A wedge of very warm and moist air in the mid-levels can create the instability required for thunderstorms even though surface temperatures are very cold and stable.

        1. Holly says:

          Thanks for the info.

    2. Wswplz says:

      I can’t believe the cold weather blog actually commented on some upcoming convective storms…I posted about this storm on Thursday last week and it was crickets….( no interest ). I hope your doing well Cort, oh btw how is weather in SLC?

      1. Cort S. says:

        Got up to 61 degrees last week… twice. Even had a thunderstorm on Thursday.

        Now we’re going to cool down to the 40s for highs. We’ll be back into the 50s next week.

        1. Wswplz says:

          Ya I’m ready for some nice thunderstorms, maybe see a little ball lighting. Well that would be more than lucky….haha. Have a good week…

      2. BigCountry(Wyoming, MI) says:

        Nothing against you, SW, there were a few possible snow makers on the horizon at the same time that had us preoccupied! Now lets talk warmth/storms.

        1. Wswplz says:

          I hear ya…

    3. Thanks for sharing our maps Cort!

      Holly, yep, the models do their best to account for these things… Often times the current snow cover has an impact on the location and movement of larger storm systems!

  4. Kevin (Marshall) says:

    Love the latest Chicago NWS forecast discussion: FOR ANYONE WHO MAY CATCH A TOUCH OF

    1. AJ (Cedar Springs) says:

      That’s funny!

    2. Cort S. says:

      The Great Winter of Two Aught Fourteen!

    3. dano (Norton Shores) says:

      Nice to see the NWS has a sense of humor…

    4. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      That is great! All it needs is a “Who knew” at the end of it. LOL

    5. Wswplz says:

      That is priceless, maybe we could convince Bill to put that on top of the thread, or create a new one with that message framed at the top… :)

    6. Jim S (Saugatuck Twp) says:

      That beats some of the weak discussions we get around here. I like when they put a little “oomph” into it.

    7. suehelen says:

      The Chicago NWS has a sense of humor! Who knew?? ;-)

    8. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      Lol….love their sense of humor!

  5. Psalmon says:

    Hey Bill, this NOAA picture below of Snow-Water Equivalent around the Lakes looks like about 12 inches of water stored up for each Lake when you consider the respective catchments – excluding any Spring precipitation.

    Any idea what the spring precipitation trends are for G.R. or MI after big ice years (’18, 77, 79, 94, 96…) – above average or drier? A lake level and potential flood driver.


  6. Jim S (Saugatuck Twp) says:

    I had to check the hourly reports to see if my weather station is reading correctly, but it is showing 41 right now…full sun all day. South Haven reported 40 at 2pm. It’s a “warm” 41.

    1. Jim if you click on my name you can see the temps from our stations around the state “none in southwest lower but that seems a bit warm.

      or here is the NWS roundup link

    2. Wswplz says:

      I have about the same temps at my house in Cedar Springs….41-44 today.

  7. 7:00am Core Sample from Breckenridge (16.5 snow depth) contains 3.43 inches of water, 7.7 new inches of snow last 7 days took it from 2.64 to 3.43 so lots of water for flood potential and likely to be higher Friday as rain should be absorbed by snow pack. Will do another core then.

    1. Cort S. says:

      Did you send that data to the NWS? That’s very useful.

  8. Mike T says:

    What is the snowfall record (season) for Holland?

  9. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

    Wow, Thursday sounds downright miserable. Freezing rain and sleet in the morning, fog, rain, thunderstorms possible, very windy, flash freeze, and then an inch of snow.

    Talk about a variety of weather conditions!

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Bring it!

  10. Meagan M says:

    Quick question.
    I was pretty young when the blizzard of 78 hit. I’m just curious. .. what was the flooding like that year? Was it bad?
    They are talking a little about it here in Lansing and I’m kinda curious if we need to prepare in any way. ..

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