2016-10-27 / Front Page

No predictions, but snowfall coming

Contest deadline Friday
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

There could be more than leaves blowing in the window this week.

That’s right, the first snowflakes of winter were forecast to fall last night in Leelanau County.

But none was expected to stick and be counted in the annual Leelanau Enterprise Snowfall Contest, for which an official form appears on page 23.

“You could see some flakes, but because you’re sos close to Lake Michigan and it’s still relative warm,w it should turn quickly to water,” National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Jeff Lutz said.

But sites with higher elevation in the interior of the state was supposed to see some of the white stuff stick.

“Our soil temperatures (at the NWS center in Gaylord) is still in the 50s, so we’re not expected a whole lot of accumulation,” Lutz said.

Vicki Schlueter, who mans the desk at Lake Leelanau Excavating, isn’t making any predictions on when the first snowflakes will fall

“Who the heck knows?” she asked.

Schlueter handles the 300 snowplowing accounts that keeps the business going through winter. She’s hopeful for snow — but not all at once.

“We’ll take it when we get it, but I don’t want too much because it puts people in a panic,” she said.

October in northern Michigan has proved to be a moving target when it comes to first snowfalls, partially due to the warmth of Lake Michigan.

According to Lutz, the mean October snowfall at the NWS cooperative weather site in Maple City is a half-inch. But its not unusual to see more significant weather episodes. In October 2013, one snowfall measured 4.9 inches. But by the time morning arrived, little remained, Lutz said.

At the time no one could predict that the winter of 2013-14 would set a new snowfall record of 267 inches.

That’s nearly 22 feet of snow.

Other than a few flakes in the air, the meteorologist said that the immediate forecast has liquid precipitation rather than solid.

Last winter, there wasn’t much accumulation to speak of until the New Year. An El Niño weather pattern, marked by warmer than usual temps in the central Pacific Ocean, kept the Jet Stream high above the Great Lakes, resulting in a somewhat mild winter in terms of snow accumulation.

A total of 127.7 inches was recorded through the end of April.

This year, Lutz said a “weak” La Niña weather pattern may impact what Old Man Winter has in store for the peninsula.

“With La Niña, the water temperature is colder than normal and results in colder and slightly drier winters,” Lutz explained.

The mean snowfall in Leelanau County since 1959 is 147.9 inches, Lutz said.

Other than 13-14, the snowiest winter in recent memory was 1996-97 when 219.6 inches of the white stuff was measured in Maple City.

Readers can take this into consideration when submitting their entries in the Leelanau Enterprise annual snowfall contest.

As of Tuesday afternoon about 200 entries had been submitted, guessing the total snowfall in the county, from October 2016 through April 2017.

The first-place winner will receive a cash prize of $200; second-place, $100 and third, $50.

The fourth-place winner will receive a signed copy of Ken Scott’s “Back Pages of Leelanau County.”

Entries must be delivered to the Enterprise by 4 p.m. Friday or postmarked on or before Oct. 28.

In addition to their guess, those entering are asked to submit their prediction on the total points score the 2017 NCAA Men’s basketball championship which will be played April 3 in Arizona — a place that doesn’t see too much snow.

Readers can track snowfall weekly in the Enterprise, which keeps close tabs on the weather all winter long.

Winners and their predictions will be announced in the Enterprise next spring.

Return to top