On January 11, 1997, much of Upper Michigan was digging out as yet another heavy snowstorm was winding down. Residents did a lot of shoveling sixteen years ago. It turned out to be the snowiest January on record at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee.
The incredibly snowy stretch started just before Christmas with foot-and-a-half snowstorm on the 23rd and 24th. Another 14 inches came down on the 30th and 31st. Then a 19-inch storm occurred on January 4-5 and over 22 inches fell on January 9-11. After the storm, the NWS snow cover reached 41 inches. The period from December 23 through January 25 saw an incredible 124.3 inches of snow.
The monthly total reached 91.7 inches in January 1997. It was the snowiest month on record at the NWS until over 91.9 inches buried the north-central U.P. station in February 2002.
Snowfall has been sparse all over Upper Michigan since the storm just before Christmas. In the Copper Country, a regular snow drought continues. The pre-Christmas storm barely grazed the area, and since then, lake-effect and system snows have been largely absent. That is about to change. Cold arctic air will begin flowing across Lake Superior late Saturday and lake-effect bands will develop. Locally heavy amounts of snow will probably occur into Monday morning and the NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch for northern Houghton and Keweenaw County. Over the rest of the U.P., especially southern areas away from the snow belts, prospects for significant snow look bleak.