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      12-11-1961: Big Snow Ushers in a Cold Winter

      An impressive upper-air trough dropped into the southwest U.S. the evening of December 10, 1961.

      One of the greatest 24-hour snowfalls on record occurred in Marquette on December 11-12, 1961. Fourteen-point-two inches fell from just before midnight on the 11th to about noon on the 12th.

      The storm was born out of a large upper-air trough over the western United States (Image 1 above). Low pressure developed out of the trough over the southwestern U.S. and headed northeast. It took an ideal path for heavy snow for the western and central U.P., passing through the central Great Lakes to just east of Sault Ste. Marie (Image 2). Iron Mountain set its daily snowfall record with a 10-inch fall. Ironwood, a little removed from the heaviest snow band over central sections still received 8 inches.

      The storm was followed by seasonably cold weather which locked a White Christmas in for most of Upper Michigan. The winter of 1961-62 was a cold one. December 1961 came in just a degree below average, while January and February 1962 were both over five degrees below normal. Snowfall after this storm continued generous and there was little melting. By late February, there was a 40-inch snow cover even in the City of Marquette. Snow banks were so high in the latter portion of winter that driving conditions were hazardous on city streets (This was in the days before snow banks were cut down and the snow hauled away,).

      The winter of 2012-13 has started mild. Through the 10th the National Weather Service reports a mean temperature 6.9 degrees above the long-term standard. The last few days have been a little colder. However, it appears that relatively mild weather will again take hold as the flow aloft becomes westerly again starting at mid-week.