WEST MICHIGAN — (Feb. 22, 2014) After a brief warm-up last week it has many thinking spring, but with temperatures quickly falling back into the twenties this weekend spring is still looking farther away than ever. This winter has been brutal, with over 100 inches of snow we are inching closer everyday towards the snowiest winter ever and temperatures have been just as brutal. February has averaged a temperature of only 18 degrees which is around 8 degrees below average for the month and with the next week it looks like that number will stay well below average.
West Michigan has had multiple run-ins with Arctic air masses this year making the term: “Polar Vortex” quite popular but another glancing blow will drop temperatures once again this week. A building ridge of high pressure off of the West Coast will dislodge arctic air south towards the Great Lakes and Canada at the end of the week. This arctic air combined with clearing skies and calm winds could lead to multiple mornings with temperatures at or below zero. Long-range models suggests the arctic air mass will somewhat park itself over the Great Lakes and Canada and bring reinforcing shots of frigid polar air for the end of February and beginning of March.
While temperatures stay cold, there is a lack of large snow-making systems in the forecast. Any snow that does develop will likely be confined to lake-effect as we enter into the end of the week. Without a large system to tap into gulf moisture snow totals should be light and steady however with that said, Lake Michigan now has open water just offshore and as we’ve seen in the past sometime lake effect events could bring heavy snow totals.
The cold and calm weather over the next week could help ice coverage on Lake Michigan. After a few days of melting the cold and calm pattern could be all Lake Michigan needs to re-freeze and inch it closer to the record coverage that we were expecting a few weeks ago.