The Early Snow of 1951

September 3rd, 2014 at 8:08 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    The summer of 1951 was the only summer (in more than 120 years of record), when we have not had a 90° day in Grand Rapids.   Tomorrow, we have a slim chance of inching up to 90° and that may be our last shot.  The warmest temperature of this summer and of the summer of 1951 was 89°.

Heavy snow came early in the  fall of 1951.  More than two feet of snow fell in downtown Grand Rapids in the first 8 days of November. Measurable snow fell on each of those days, with 5.8″ on the 3rd, 4.4″ on the 4th, 6.4″ on the 6th and 7.6″ on the 7th. There was a foot of snow on the ground in downtown Grand Rapids the morning of the 8th and “drifts were considerably greater”. Low temperatures were in the teens from the 2nd to the 6th. By the 13th, the temperature was back above 60 degrees (a heavy thunderstorm that day flooded streets and basements), but the month did wind up 5.6 colder than average, with a total of 30″ of snowfall. The downtown weather station set record low temperatures on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th. The airport weather station had five consecutive record low temperatures from the 2nd through the 6th, including +6° on the 5th and +9° on the 6th. The heavy snow continued in December with 51.3″ measured at the downtown weather station. The snow was 22″ deep (not counting drifts) on Christmas Day.  That winter was the snowiest winter ever in Grand Rapids with 144″ downtown and 132″ for the season at the (old) Kent County Airport.   (picture courtesy of the G.R. Public Library).

Also:  Barrow, AK, set a new record snowfall total for Sept 2 with 4.4″; Fairbanks, AK had 2.24″ of rain, more than 2 times the average total for the entire month of September!

32 Responses to “The Early Snow of 1951”

  1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Keep the facts coming! This winter could be AWESOME! COLD and SNOW Rocks! There is nothing better than winter in MI!

    1. matt says:

      The only thing you’ll be doing is sitting in the basement dreaming up new lies about those ski trips you take while everyone here knows you’re a kid who is a habitual liar :D

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      Have you not an original thought? Must you repeat the same thing over and over and over?

    3. linda johnson says:

      last winter, was very difficult for many people I know financially. a lot are retired. one on disability. very expensive heating bills. maybe, you don’t pay bills.

  2. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Im pretty sure that the one degree difference will have no effect on the winter, but it will definitely be interesting to see. I guess it depends on how many 89 degree days each year had.

  3. Brian(Grandville) says:

    Interesting comparisons between then and now. A few months from now we will have a little better comparison of the 2 years. If it doesn’t hit 90 tomorrow…….well it’s probably still gonna be a hot, humid, uncomfortable day. This weekend sounds very nice.

  4. Todd H (NE GR - Dean Lake) says:

    I want another winter like last year. I love snow and cold weather. Got a new roof this year….bring it…….

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      Last winter didn’t bother me a bit. Not sure what all the commotion was all about. We live in Michigan, so we should know better than to rule out anything as for winter weather goes.

    2. Jeremy (Three Rivers) says:

      I agree. Winter is my favorite season.

  5. Barb says:

    I could take 70s year ’round.

    1. Cindy says:

      I agree with Barb. :)

      1. Jack says:

        ME 2…. Winter SUCKS !!!

        1. Liz says:

          Move out of Michigan if you want 70* all year. I want to go where it is more temperate all year, butI don’t mind the snow. I grew up near TC, the winters here don’t compare.

    2. suehelen says:

      I like the change in seasons. I prefer 70s but I don’t mind the snow and cold. However, I like to be able to get outside in all seasons and enjoy it. There were times last winter that it was almost impossible.

  6. Randy M (Comstock Park) says:

    As someone who works outdoors (with much walking around), I for one hope that we don’t have anywhere near a record snowfall, much less what we had last winter. Still, with a sample size of 1, I’m not going to get too worked up about it.

  7. bluegill says:

    The record low for Traverse City for the month of August is 9 degrees F according to though the NWS has 32 in 1982 at the airport. Can’t find the year for Month to date section at bottom of page –

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      32 seems a bit more logical to comprehend. I don’t know where they could have possibly come up with 9???

    2. michael g (SE GR) says:

      Yet another good reason to stay away from

  8. Alger Dave says:

    As previously stated – thanks for the warning and the chance to stock up on prozac. If this doesn’t sell real estate in Florida, nothing will. If my grass would stop growing so fast, I’d have time to fix my snowblower.

  9. kevin. w says:

    Don’t have to worry about winter’s anymore Bill in Michigan. I’m going to put my house up for sale within the next few weeks as I bought a place up here in Alaska for the summer. I’m flying home this weekend and putting my house for sale then getting a place in Florida for the winter months. I left my motorhome up at my new place in Alaska. So you can talk all the winter stuff you want whether its brutal or not. Haven’t been on the blog much so really haven’t followed much on here nor do I think I’ve missed much. Do enjoy some of the info you have on here. Take care Bill and thanks for the continues updates on all the scientific info. :)

    1. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

      Sounds like you’re in for your own adventures! :)

  10. Don’t mind the record snow, but I do not want a bone chilling cold like last winter. If we got 145″ with temps in the 20′s and upper teens, bring it on.

    Idk if it is just me but over the years I have seen a change in our weather. It seems our severe weather has been lacking about the past 3 years here in the GR area. The last REAL good line of storms I can think of was the derecho of 2011. We are bound to get another, but it may be have to be next summer. I remember my parents always making a comment that Allegan County was our “tornado alley” of Michigan. They always told me “no wonder there are a lot of tornado warnings here because of all the farmland” Farms don’t cause tornadoes, they were just thinking of the whole Kansas mentality. I remember Byron Center used to be under so many tornado warnings and I remember watching 2 funnel clouds while living here with one rotating very strongly. People used to call southern Kent County “derecho alley” too. Just thought I would share that info. Maybe our storms will pick up again like they were back in the day. Only time will tell!

    1. Obviously I do not want any damage, but A couple nice doosey storms would be nice! It would pick up the slack on the blog as well ;)

  11. Scott (robinson twsp) says:

    Bring on the snow!! I called it quits plowing last year after 14 years. Now I can sleep in and watch the snow pile up. :)

  12. Robert Hoekstra says:

    Hi Bill Steffen,

    A question regarding the cooler temperature the summer and the projection for this winter, in comparison to the Fall of 1951 which witnessed an enormous amount of snow fall. In the winter of 1950-1951, did the Great Lakes freeze over or almost a 100% of it?

    Thank you,

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      That November was unusually cold, with an average temperature of 32.8°. December averaged close to normal. January and February were about 3° cooler than average (last year Jan. was 6.3° cooler than average and both Feb. and Mar. were 9° cooler than average). So while the winter of 1951-52 had above average ice, there wasn’t as much ice as we had last winter.

      1. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

        I’m sure it was harder to accurately estimate the ice on the lakes in the 50s without the technological advantages we have now.

        1. Bill Steffen says:

          Satellites can make a real difference.

  13. janet nyreen says:

    Bill Couldn’t you have lied to us and said that winter was one of the mildest on record. At least we could have a few weeks of delusion and hope. Their is going to be a traffic back up of people leaving the state if we have a repeat of last year.

    Where is the Prozac!

  14. TomKap (Michigan & Fuller - GR) says:

    Interesting facts, but I’m one who doesn’t believe a difference of 1 degree on any given day is a fair prediction of anything.

  15. Mr.Positive says:

    Who cares let us enjoy September and october first. Once again your cold weather bias is showing. Just because we didn’t have a 90 degree day this summer dosent mean we will have a cold and snowy winter. I know bill that you’re hoping we gave the snowiest winter ever but some of us are hopeful for a mild one. Whether you like it or not we could have a mild one or we could have one like last year. Only time will tell but can we just enjoy fall first

  16. JanieD says:

    I don’t care how much snow we end up getting, it’s the black ice that scares me. You don’t have to drive like a maniac to slide into an intersection. Scary!

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