The Big New Year's Lake Effect Snow Event

An arctic cold front moved through on the afternoon of December 31st, ushering in a three day period of heavy lake effect snow along the Lake Michigan shore. It was a very snowy New Year for coastal towns from Ludington to South Haven with over a foot of snow falling near the immediate lake shore. Persistant north-northwest winds kept the snow confined to near the lake, with snow amounts dropping off quickly with distance from the lake. This radar-estimated snowfall map shows the sharp gradient in snowfall across the coastal counties. The green areas are 4 to 6 inch estimates. The purple is greater than 6 inches, and the yellow is greater than a foot. Particularly striking is the narrow stripe of heavy snow across western Muskegon County, where more than a foot of snow fell right on the Lake Michigan shore and only about 4 inches was measured at the Muskegon airport, a few miles inland from the lake.

Some measured snow totals over the three days from Thursday night through Saturday night:

4 Miles NW of Montague, Muskegon County: 17 inches

3 Miles WSW of Hart, Oceana County: 15.7 inches

6 Miles NNW of Scottville, Mason County: 15.5 inches

1 mile NW of Bangor, Van Buren County: 15.3 inches

3 NE of Saugatuck, Allegan County: 11.0 inches


Below is a snow map which was prepared using all of the reports received across the area. The National Weather Service thanks everyone who submitted snowfall reports and contributed to the development of this graphic.


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