It's no secret, the 2023-24 winter in Michigan is off to a VERY mild start. An El Nino system out of the west has kept temperatures warm, and precipitation relatively low for most of the state, which is NOT ideal for our typical winters in the Mitten.

But if trends continue like they are now, it's possible two things could happen: Michigan could see near-record low amounts of snow, and the Great Lakes could set a record low for ice coverage.

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Record Low Snowfall?

Winter just started on Dec. 21st, but by now, Michigan has typically seen a fair amount of snow and ice. Parts of the Upper Peninsula are usually covered in at least a small amount of snow for the majority of the winter, but strangely, this year, it's all practically dry ground.

In fact, there is no place in the Upper Peninsula, or any part of Michigan, that is trending above or close to average snowfall. Sault Ste. Marie has only 35.9 inches of snow, when normally, they would have seen nearly 45 inches by now.

Record Low Snowfall in Michigan
Weather.gov
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Michigan's snowiest part of the state, the Keweenaw Peninsula, is facing a brown out this year, with less than 30 inches of snow from October through the end of December. Last year, they got 80 inches in December ALONE!

Record Low Lake Ice?

Obviously, warmer weather means less snow, AND less ice on the Lakes. The Great Lakes have seen years in the past with low amounts of ice, but as of the end of December, they are trending toward a possible record low amount.

In February of 2023, which is normally the peak for cold weather and Lake Ice in Michigan, we set record lows with only 7 percent of the lakes having any ice coverage. The average is usually around 35-40 percent by February.

And here we are at the end of December, when colder temperatures should really be taking hold, and we are at less than 0.2% ice coverage across ALL of the Great Lakes.

2023 December Great lakes Ice Coverage
NOAA
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Will We See Any More Ice and Snow?

Well, we live in Michigan, and winter still has quite a bit of time left. So the answer there is, YES. Long Term forecasts for various parts of the state show chances for snow, and colder temperatures like we're used to this time of year. But nothing too extreme, and certainly nothing severe enough (for now) that could see large amounts of the Great Lakes freezing any time soon.

We'll get a better look at what's coming through the month of January, but if the current trends hold, any ice fishing plans on the Great Lakes might have to hold off for at least another year.

Water Spouts: 'Tornadoes' of the Great Lakes

Strange Creatures of the Great Lakes

Gallery Credit: Wikipedia

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