CADILLAC – Winter got off to a good start in northern Michigan, dropping 8 to 10 inches of snow in just a few days.
The combination of freezing temperatures and lake effect snow allowed Caberfae Peaks to build a solid base in time to open the day after Thanksgiving.
Although the station may have enough snow on the ground to withstand a few days of warmer weather and rain, the natural accumulation in the rest of the region could be threatened this week.
National Weather Service meteorologist Faith Fredrickson said conditions would be favorable for melting snow Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday.
While she was hesitant to predict how much snow would melt, she said it was possible it could be drastic.
“It’s likely to melt at least some of the snow,” Fredrickson. “This should decrease over the next few days.”
Temporary warm-ups aside, long-range forecasters say skiers and snowboarders in this part of the country could be in luck this year.
According to Accuweather, ski resorts across the country are starting to open for the season, thanks in part to La Niña. La Niña influences the path of storms across the United States, and in the coldest months it can dictate where snow falls and how often powder covers the ski slopes.
After an unusually warm start to November in the northeast, it has become considerably colder in the region since the middle of the month as arctic air pours in from Canada. Freezing air has allowed some ski resorts to make artificial snow to get skiers hitting the slopes ahead of Thanksgiving. Recent bouts of lake effect snow have also set a solid foundation for resorts in New York and Michigan.
Forecasters say it won’t be a good winter for skiing in California, Utah and Arizona, but it won’t be a bad season either. Storms will occasionally roll over the western United States, depositing blankets of snow on ski resorts, but spells of dry weather between snowstorms could impact the slopes.
AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok warned that periods of warmer weather throughout the season could affect the quality of snow at the base of the ski slopes.
People in the eastern United States who don’t want to travel across the country to ski will still have plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes this winter, although a little patience may be required.
“The end of the season could be very interesting for the Northeast,” Pastelok said, adding that there could be bigger snowstorms in the region in the second half of winter.
Resorts from North Carolina to Pennsylvania may have to rely on artificial snow for the first half of winter until the stormy pattern develops during the latter part of the season.
Further north in New York and New England, the overall season is expected to be good, although Pastelok said the first snowpacks could turn icy mid-winter.
Even better ski conditions are expected in the Midwest, especially in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Pastelok said these areas could “get pretty badly hit” by snow early in the season, establishing a solid snow base that will remain untouched for most or all of winter.