2016-12-01 / Front Page

November destined as warmest recorded

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


SUTTONS BAY neighborhood volunteers prepared the “ice rink park” at Broadway and Lincoln streets for action on Saturday morning, unfurling a plastic tarp that keeps water in place as it freezes. However, weather forecasts could put a damper on ice skating for awhile. Photo by Eric Carlson SUTTONS BAY neighborhood volunteers prepared the “ice rink park” at Broadway and Lincoln streets for action on Saturday morning, unfurling a plastic tarp that keeps water in place as it freezes. However, weather forecasts could put a damper on ice skating for awhile. Photo by Eric Carlson The National Park Service is looking for an intern for snowshoe hikes.

It may take a while to put him or her to work.

November 2016 will likely go down in the record books as the warmest in modern history, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

As of press time yesterday, the average daily temperature at the NWS cooperative weather station in Maple City was 45.3 degrees, high enough to easily break a 41-year record of 43.3 degrees set in 1975.

It’s a second-straight November of warm temperatures. Last November, the average temperature at the same site a year ago was 42.9, which is destined to become the third-warmest on record.

“We’re still getting hunters and hikers taking advantage of the weather,” said Gary VanDerziel, executive assistant at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “But we’re going to get snow, maybe as soon as this weekend.”

It would be just the second snow event of the season.

County residents reveled in 70-degree temperatures Nov. 17 and 18 and recoiled when the mercury fell and with it the first snow of the season, Nov. 19.

But snow, like freezing temperatures, proved elusive. Just 3.7 inches fell last month.

Road Commission crews, usually already into the snowplow season come Dec. 1, have only been out twice — once on the first day of a mid-month storm and again the following day.

While ready to hit the road when more seasonal weather arrives, crews have been occupied with other activities.

“We’ve been taking full advantage of the extra month (of warmth) with tree work,” said Dan Wagner, managing director of the Leelanau County Road Commission. “We actually got to some paving work early last month we didn’t think we’d get to.”

Last week, commission crews occupied themselves with ditching and tree work along Lakeshore Drive. This week crews were in Leland working improving drainage on Lake Street.

In addition, time that department employees would usually spend plowing and clearing roads has been freed up for safety training for tree removal and chainsaw use as well as brushing and chipping.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has also provided video training for snowplow operation.

“The most frequent injuries for drivers take place when they’re going into or coming out of their truck,” Wagner said.

It may be a while before drivers are put to the test.

According to the NWS Climate Prediction Center, the three-month outlook for Leelanau County, calls for near normal temperatures with above normal precipitation.

Just what form the precipitation takes will be determined by temperatures.

NWS records between 1980 and 2010 place normal December highs in Maple City in the upper 30s with lows near 20. Normal snowfall during the last month of the calendar year is 40 inches with liquid precipitation (rain plus melted snow) totaling 3 inches.

In January, normal snowfall of 43 inches has been recorded with total precipitation of 2.5 inches.

Historically, winter weather lets up a little in February with normal snowfall measured at 26 inches and 1.75 of liquid precipitation.

Last month’s mild weather failed to spark demand for snow removal vouchers from Leelanau County Senior Services.

“There hasn’t been much interest because we haven’t had any snow,” program assistant Armanda Krantz said.

Each year, senior services offers 3,500 vouchers to county seniors, limiting the number of vouchers available for purchase to 10 per senior household.

“Last year, we sold a little over 2,400,” Krantz said. “This year, we still have some available for those who haven’t reached their limit.”

By the first of January 2014, seniors were clamoring for vouchers. That winter set a new record for snowfall in Leelanau County at just over 223 inches.

The short-range forecast puts the next chance of measurable snowfall at Friday. However, a larger, more substantial weather system is looming for late next week, NWS meteorologist Tim Locker said.

Rest assured, when snow does come, Friends of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail will be ready. The group is scheduled to hold a meeting this weekend to prepare for the upcoming snow season.

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