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      2-3-1983: The Ground Hog Storm

      A major winter storm was situated over the western Great Lakes 30 years ago today.

      This storm was an island of winter in an otherwise mild season. One of the strongest El Ninos occurred in the winter of 1982-83. Strong El Ninos correlate to mild winters in the Upper Midwest and this cold season was no exception. December 1982 ended 5.4 degrees above average and it rained over much of the U.P. on Christmas. January was mild, too. The mean temperature was 18, about 6 degrees above average. Snowfall was relatively light with few lake-effect eventsâ??the air wasnâ??t cold enoughâ??and no major system snows. That all changed in early February 1983.

      A split flow (a trademark of El Nino winters) began the month with low pressure developing over western Texas (Image 1 above). The low eased into southern Indiana on Ground Hogâ??s Day as the southern stream began merging with the northern stream over the central U.S (Image 2). It began snowing in Upper Michigan late on February 2nd and continued through the next day as the low moved due north into the Lower Peninsula. Over two feet of snow fell at the National Weather Service (NWS) site near Negaunee with 8 inches on the 2nd and 18 inches on February 3, 1983. A brief cold spell followed the snow and then a â??winter-springâ?? pattern reestablished itself for the remainder of the month. February 1983 ended 7.6 degrees above the long-term average. A 38-inch snow cover at the NWS following the storm shrunk to 13 inches during the third week of the month.

      Snow cover has thickened up across the U.P., especially in the north. Even over southern sections, there have been system snows over the last couple of weeks. There will be at least a couple of opportunities for at least light snow over the several days. In addition, temperatures will gradually warm, but it doesnâ??t appear it will get warm enough to melt much snow.