Buried: Current Snow Depth Ties 35-Year High

Posted at 7:39 AM, Feb 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-06 08:08:06-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 6, 2014) — It’s not news to anyone in West Michigan that the snow has been piling up this winter to a level we haven’t seen in recent years.  However, a look at the statistics makes us realize how rare this season has been.

As of Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the official snow depth measured at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport reached 21 inches.  The last time Grand Rapids recorded snow that deep?  February 16, 1985.

Yep, you read that right. The snow is currently deeper than at any point since 1985, when we had a three-day run of 21″ snow depths.  The last time the snow was deeper than 21″ was way back in January of 1979, reaching a maximum of 23 inches.

Looking back over the last 50 years, it’s pretty easy to guess the maximum snow depth on record — 27 inches right after the Blizzard of 1978.

The culprit this season has been not only several rounds of heavy snow, but also temperatures remaining very cold, preventing much melting from taking place.  Even with cold air, a lack of new snowfall will allow snow depth to gradually decrease as the snowpack compacts and some of the snow sublimates to vapor.  But in the last two months, we’ve only had eight days without at least a trace of snowfall — an easy way to maintain and increase the snow depth on the ground.

In Muskegon, the current official snow depth is 23 inches, only two inches greater than Grand Rapids.  This is despite the fact that the overall snow totals are more than 14 inches higher in Muskegon.  The official snowfall in Muskegon crossed the one-hundred-inch mark on Wednesday.  While noteworthy, 100″ of snow isn’t all that uncommon over the course of the season along the lakeshore.

We will see about an inch of lake-effect snow, on average, through the day on Thursday.  Friday should be fairly quiet, with only a few flurries; but there’s another burst of snow on the horizon by Saturday afternoon.  You can check out the 7 Day Forecast on the Weather page.

IMAGE ABOVE: Cars Buried in Snow — Ronald Nestell, January 25, 2014