2017-12-21 / Front Page

White Christmas? Snow problem

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Old Man Winter took a brief reprieve but is expected to return to the county today — as if on cue — for the winter solstice.

Snow is in the forecast every day through Tuesday and there’s really no end in sight, ensuring a very white Christmas. However, winter’s time off provided time for Road Commission crews to clear roads and push back snowbanks that began piling up last week. Temperatures reached highs of 34 and 40 degrees Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Monday, Leelanau County Road Commission crews to advantage of warmer weather and scraped areas of roadway that had been covered in packed ice. They also pushed snowbanks back and “cleaned up” intersections.

“It was a very productive day,” commission managing director Dan Wagner said.

Yesterday crews’ focus shifted to cutting trees.

“I think they’d rather be plowing snow,” Wagner said.

Volunteers with the Friends of Sleeping Bear were scheduled today to assess snow loss on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail today.

“Colder is better for us,” said Kerry Kelly, president of the Friends of Sleeping Bear.

On Sunday, the entire trail from Glen Arbor to Port Oneida Road had been groomed with a roller/ compactor to build a base.

Volunteer crews were scheduled to groom the trail again today from Glen Arbor to Empire, then Friday from north of Glen Arbor to Port Oneida and into the Leelanau Conservancy’s Palmer Woods Forest Preserve. The Conservancy offers four additional miles of cross country ski trails.

Snow lovers can keep their fingers crossed, but the National Weather Service isn’t expecting a dumping of the white stuff.

“It’s not a major storm,” National Weather Service meteorologist John Boris said. “It’s a long, drawn out period of snow across northern Lower Michigan.”

But really nothing expected to complicate travel over the Christmas holiday, Boris said.

That’s good news and a change of pace to many drivers who had a hard time staying on the road over the past 10 days.

More than 20 weather-related calls were fielded by the county Sheriff’s Office Friday through Monday. However, no serious injuries were reported.

Over a 4-day period beginning Dec. 11 more than 15 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service weather station in Maple City, bringing the season total to 34.1 inches.

The snow coincided with an 8-day run of temperatures below freezing. Average highs from Dec. 10 through Sunday in Maple City were 24.5 degrees; average lows were 12.5.

Lake effect snow showers are known to vary greatly between locations. Such as the case from Dec. 12 to Saturday, when 19.5 inches of snow was recorded at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center in Bingham Township.

The weather pattern changed Monday bringing warmth from the south.

“It was a brief respite from the cold,” Boris said.

The return to more seasonal temperatures matches with the arrival of winter, set for 11:27 a.m. today. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year resulting in the “shortest day of the year.”

According to the Farmer’s Almanac the sun will be up for 8 hours, 46 minutes today — nearly 7 hours less than the summer solstice in June.

The extended forecast appears to favor outdoor enthusiast who got a small taste of winter before the warm up

A high temperature of 32 is forecast for Friday. However, the mercury is expected to drop to just 21 degrees Christmas Eve and even lower to 17 on Christmas Day.

“Temperatures won’t go above freezing, perhaps through the rest of the year — Christmas and beyond,” Boris said.

Return to top