Parts of Upper Michigan were in the midst of a snow blitz on December 18, 1981. This was very much a Lake Superior-induced event. A cold upper-air low parked to the north in Canada began sinking southward (Image 1 & 2 above). Persistent northerly winds at the surface and very cold air aloft provided the perfect set up for lake-effect and lake-enhanced snow for northerly-favored snow belts.
One of those favored areas was the Gogebic Range. Ironwood collected consecutive daily-record 10 inch-snowfalls on December 17 and 18. Farther east, at the National Weather Service (NWS) site near Negaunee, a three-day storm occurred. From December 16-18, 1981, consecutive falls of 13.4, 11.5 and 16.7 inches were measured for a storm total of 41.6 inches. When the cold upper-air low finally pulled away to the east on the 19th, a snow cover of 35 inches was reported by NWS officials. Relatively moderate temperatures with only light snow ended the month. This peaceful respite allowed residents to catch their breaths before the bitterly cold and snowy month of January 1982 set in.The storm coming up will be moving in from the southwest. This one will be moving right along, so no one in the Great Lakes region should get buried like back in 1981. It does appear the thrust of this storm will be over the southeastern U.P. where some heavy system snow will occur if the low moves far enough northward in the LP before being deflected eastward. Farther northwest, cold air is lacking, so the situation is not ideal for lake-enhancement or lake-effect off Superior. Nonetheless, some contribution will likely contribute to accumulations in the highlands around Marquette during Thursday into Thursday night. Otherwise, the city itself may only see a few inches.