This has been a mild start to December. However, it was just as warm in 2001. Several Upper Michigan towns had record highs in the 50s on December 6, 2001 including Ironwood, Munising and Iron Mountain. The National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee hit 52 degrees that day.
After a November that saw a mean temperature nearly ten degrees above the long-term standard, December continued the warm weather. The warmest day was the 6th, but even after that, temperatures remained mild. The month ended nearly eight degrees above normal. In fact, the first below average day of the month did not occur until the day after Christmas. Snowfall was very light until the holidays. Even then, the snow was localized due to lake-effect. The southern U.P. had little all month back in 2001.
Winter that season did not really get going until early February. A big storm developed in the southwest and lifted northeastward bringing heavy snow to most of the U.P. The pattern then kept repeating into mid-March. By the time the last flakes fell later in the spring, a record 319.8 inches of snow collected at the National Weather Service site (NWS) near Negaunee.
Snowfall over the last few winters has been light. Last year, the NWS only measured a bit over 152 inches. In 2010-11, 163.1 was recorded and in 09-10, only 159.6 inches fell. The average over the last 30 years is just over 200 inches. That seasonal total reflects the big snows of the mid to late 90s and the whopper in 01-02. Keep in mind that the average during the 60s through the 1980s was only a bit over 165 inches. Bottom line, we are now in a down cycle for snow. This is not unprecedented, but it certainly is frustrating if you are a snow lover.