ALPENA — From Nov. 1 through Jan. 16, snowfall totals in Alpena are nearly a foot below the long-term average and the brunt of the snow it did receive was in November — early in the winter season.
So far, 22.7 inches of snow have fallen in Alpena, well below the 33.4 inch average for the same time span.
So far this winter, residents have seen more grass in their yards than snow, but that is expected to change on Thursday as the National Weather Service is tracking a winter storm expected to roll through northern Michigan.
The Weather Service is forecasting four to six inches of snow or more throughout the early hours of Thursday until late Thursday night. Strong winds with gusts up to 45 miles per hour is also forecasted.
A winter storm watch was issued on Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m.
Winter started early in Alpena as snow began to cover the ground in mid-November. Over a five-day stretch, from Nov. 15-20, the area received a brunt of its snow as 12.1 inches of the season’s first snow fell. That amount easily eclipsed the 6.6 inches average for November.
For the month, 12.5 total inches fell.
December was the polar opposite of November. Alpena received about half the snow it typically does — thanks in part to Mother Nature sparing it from a blizzard that caused power outages and hazardous travel for much of the state.
A blizzard warning was issued just before Christmas that called for as much as 18 inches of snow and high winds. Instead, Alpena received more rain during the first half of the storm, which drove down snow totals.
When the storm clouds moved out, Alpena only received 2.5 inches of snow.
In December, Alpena received 9.6 inches of snow, markedly lower than the 16.9 inch average.
So far, the weather this month has been mild.
Not only have temperatures been above average, but less than an inch of snow has fallen with less than two weeks left to go in January.
A storm Thursday could push the snowfall total back toward the long-term average.
According to the forecast for Thursday, the National Weather Service says in its Hazardous Weather Outlook statement, that a significant winter storm is likely to impact northern Michigan on Thursday and the system may bring heavy, wet snow to parts of the area. Travel may be impacted as well.
The notice says more details on snow amounts will be updated as the system draws closer. Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.