Snow Totals Mount From Clipper System

Posted at 5:01 PM, Feb 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-02 17:08:56-05

GRAND RAPIDS – What is normally a few inches of snow from a Clipper system has turned out to be a much more as West Michigan saw some serious lake-enhancement.

Clipper systems are usually quick little low pressure systems or disturbances that zip across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes in the winter months. Most of the time they lack significant moisture, since they are generally cut-off from the Gulf of Mexico. That said, large bodies of water like Lake Michigan can supply ample moisture to these Clipper systems and take totals from what should have been a two to four-inch amount and turn it into several more inches.

The attached photo was taken off my deck in Comstock Park where I tallied about seven inches. Compare that with Howard City in Montcalm County much further to the north at just 2.5 inches. Bangor in Van Buren County picked up another nine inches since Friday afternoon…on top of the eight to ten inches that came prior to that on Thursday into Friday!  Grandville measured 9.4 inches since Friday afternoon, and Bloomington tallied a 24 hour total of eight inches. Rockford totals were around 10.5 inches, and we had reports in/around Muskegon of four to six inches. The highest amounts clearly fell across the heart of the viewing area in central/western Kent County and Ottawa County, with much lesser amounts to the north/east.

Other reports include Grand Rapids at about eight inches, Cutlerville at six inches, and between four and five inches in Moline in Allegan County. The highest totals from this Clipper system could be found in Berrien County where St. Joseph and Benton Harbor both reported 11 inches. The moisture content of the snow was very low, probably about a 20:1 ratio. Most snowfalls are generally a 10:1 ratio…meaning we see about 10 inches of snow for every one inch of liquid precipitation. Ratios are mainly a factor of temperature and something called the dendritic growth zone (DGZ). Click here to read more about it! It certainly is hard to believe we had a couple of inches of rain and thunderstorms earlier this week with near record temperatures pushing 60 degrees!

Sometimes these systems are called a Saskatchewan Screamer. They get their name from the point of origin (well to the north/west) in Alberta Canada or the northwest provinces of Canada. They typically move quickly and drop smaller amounts of snow, but on some occasions these systems can tally some pretty good snowfall amounts. Click here for more on these systems.

We’ll add more snow totals to this article as they become available this afternoon. In the meantime, you can send you snow totals to or directly to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids here. Remember to send any weather photos and snow pictures to or They can also be posted directly to our FOX 17 Facebook page.

Look for the snow to taper off this afternoon as road crews get a chance to play catch up. Drive safe and have a pleasant weekend. We’ll have a complete recap of the day’s events coming this evening on FOX 17 News at Ten!