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      12-10-1977: Digging Out

      Strong low pressure over Lake Huron brought the ideal wind to north-central Upper Michigan on December 9, 1977. Very heavy snow fell.

      The first U.P.-wide snow occurred on Sunday into early today. I would call this a light to moderate snow. Totals ranged from near and inch-and-a-half to up to 6.5 inches in the high country of Marquette County. Thirty-five years ago, residents of the north-central U.P. were digging out from what I would call a MEGA snow.

      Back in 1977, low pressure developed well to the south over the Ohio Valley on December 5th. It moved northeastward into New York. The northerly winds on its backside generated heavy lake-enhanced snow over the north-central U.P. A total of 18 inches piled up at the National Weather Service (NWS) on the 7th. Then, a new system dug into the Plains and moved up to Lake Huron. Eight inches of snow fell on December 8th and a whopping 22.8 inches fell the next day. Over the three day period from December 7-9, 1977, 49.4 inches was measured at the NWS site. By contrast, a mere dusting occurred (by comparison) in the City of Marquette. Over the same period, only 12.8 came down. Very cold air followed the storms. The high in Marquette on the 10th only reached 11 above. Then on December 11, 1977, the low at the NWS bottomed out at 21 below zero??the earliest 20 below zero reading at the site.

      A significant warm up followed in mid-December. The warm up lasted a week-and-a-half and shrunk the snow pack considerably, especially in the city. Cold air then came in starting on Christmas Eve and temperatures stayed below average in early 1978.

      The next system of concern will be a weak low passing north of Lake Superior late tonight into Tuesday. A little light snow and flurries will fall, with a chance of more significant snow developing off Lake Michigan over the eastern U.P. from near Manistique to as far north as Newberry. Even there, only an inch or two is expected.