Will we be able to make up our snowfall deficit?

With the limited snowfall at most locations so far this year, the question becomes “Will we be able to make up our snowfall deficit over the next couple of months?”

There are a lot of factors that go into the amount of snowfall we will receive through April, but past data seems to indicate that the chances are low for NWS Marquette to receive normal snowfall for the season. The chart below shows the snowfall accumulation by month since the 1980-1981 winter season. Also plotted on this chart is the average snowfall (red line), highest seasonal snowfall (blue line for 2001-2002), lowest seasonal snowfall (brown line for 1986-1987), and this year (black line). As you can see in the chart, there is a fairly even distribution between above normal and below normal seasonal snowfalls.

 Seasonal Snowfall Chart since 1980-1981

When you pull out all of the seasons that had above normal snowfall through December, the potential for normal or above normal seasonal snowfall diminishes. Of the remaining 16 years, all but 4 of those years ended up being below normal (see the next chart below). Those 4 winter seasons were 1982-1983, 1984-1985, 1987-1988, and 2006-2007. Therefore, based on past history, you could say that we only have a 25% chance of our seasonal snowfall being normal this season. In addition, when looking at the last three winter seasons, we have been well below normal on snowfall (3 season average of 158.5 inches or 44.8 inches below normal).

 Below Normal Snowfall through December

With the start of this January lacking snow, our opportunity for seeing normal or above normal snow this year is diminishing. The 4 years that ended up above normal all had above normal snowfall in January, in addition to most of the February/March/April months.

Looking at the most recent example, the 2006-2007 season, we had similar snowfall through the end of December, and then went into a warm and dry period for the first part of January. That changed on the 15th of January when a low pressure system moved through the Great Lakes region and brought 15.8 inches of snow. The rest of the month was at or below normal temperature wise, with periods of lake effect snow. We ended up receiving near normal snowfall for the month of February. The start of March was snowy and saw over 30 inches of snow in the first 3 days. Finally, April of 2007 was one for the record books, with 55.2 inches recorded that month and pushed the seasonal total to 230.5 inches.

2006-2007 Seasonal Snowfall

The opportunity for snow this work week looks to be very limited, but a building upper level trough over the western half of the United States will lead to the potential of a low pressure system moving through the Great Lakes region this weekend. Pinning down the exact track this far out is difficult to do, especially since small shifts in the track can greatly affect snowfall amounts.

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