Early blast of winter hits Michigan

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 4, 2010 8:14 pm

Many of Michigan’s ski slopes are open, with snow-making machines churning out tons of flakes. And those who earn their living when it’s cold outside are hoping signs of an economic recovery and forecasts for a snowy winter will lead them into the black in this season of white.

Missy Smithwick, director of sales at Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac, said Friday the ski resort has more than a foot of snow and is busy making more. “Now that the weather has gotten colder, our snow guns are really cranking it out,” she said.

“In terms of snowfall, last year was tops for us.
You bet we’re excited about the upcoming winter: We live for this season.”

Mickey MacWilliams, executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, shared Smithwick’s optimism. Initial bookings are strong at ski lodges and winter resorts, she said. People who may have been holding back appear to be ready to head out for a ski weekend up north or at least make a trip to local ski slopes such as Pine Knob or Mount Holly, she said.

“We just started, but right now everybody is optimistic for a good year,” MacWilliams said. “The weather is cooperating. It’s a little cold, a little snowy and that’s what we need for people to get excited.”

They’ve been making snow at Crystal Mountain since Thanksgiving, said Brian Lawson, a spokesman for the resort 28 miles southwest of Traverse City. “We will be open for skiing (Saturday) although all our runs won’t be open,” Lawson said.

“We have at least an 18-inch base on the runs that are open, and we’re making snow on the rest. Temperatures look good here for the next week so we’re going to build up our momentum going into the holiday season.”

Snowy winter forecast
According to the National Weather Service, conditions in Metro Detroit should be favorable for skiing over the next week. Forecasts call for highs in the low to mid 30s, with chances of intermittent light snowfall.

In the northern Lower Peninsula, home to the state’s biggest and most popular ski resorts, highs in the mid- to upper 20s are predicted, with snow showers likely most days.

As for the rest of the winter, expect a bit more snow than usual, said Bill Deedler, a weather historian and meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in White Lake Township. In lower Michigan, winter snowfall ranges from an average of 41 inches in Detroit to 96 inches in Muskegon, according to the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Deedler has studied decades of weather patterns and compared weather systems over the years to make the prediction. In this region, the heaviest snows will be in the northern suburbs and in the Flint and Saginaw areas, he said.

We can also expect below normal temperatures until January, when we’ll see a relative warm-up before things cool down again in the later stages of winter, Deedler said.

Rev up the snowmobile

The extra snow would be good news for snowmobilers, too. The Michigan snowmobile season – which runs through March, officially kicked off Wednesday.

Michigan is ranked first in the nation with 359,374 registered snowmobiles. Oakland County alone has more registered snowmobiles – 28,000 – than some states, including Alaska and Washington, according to the Michigan Snowmobile Association.

Hartland resident Kristi Perry is looking forward to a family trip to Boyne Mountain, in Petoskey.
“We get a cabin and go up for the week and sled and ski and have a great time,” Perry, 35, said.
She’s also looking forward to snowmobiling up in Mackinac.
“I know it’s kind of weird but I like the cold,” she said. “I like the snow – it puts you in the mood for the season.”

And what about driving in the snow and slush and ice – all byproducts of winter in this area?
No problem, she said – if you’re a true Michiganian.
“If you’re in Michigan, you either need to know how to drive in the snow or you need to move elsewhere.”


Source: Pardo, Steve & Greenwood, Tom “Ski resorts welcome early blast of winter” The Detroit News 4 Dec. 2010