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      The Snowy Week: May 12-16, 1997

      Its solution captures a surface low to the east and generates snow over central and eastern sections of the U.P.

      There may yet be some snow over parts of Upper before the week is out. It has been an interesting springâ??and a frustrating one for those who want warm weather to come and hold. Road restrictions are still not off many U.P. roads which puts excavation companies and loggers at a big disadvantage. This is not totally unprecedented. In fact, as early as 17 years ago, a good share of the U.P. was enduring at least some snow every day for the better part of a week.

      After the snowiest winter recorded at the time, a warm spell in early April 1997 quickly whittled down the huge banks left by a record March snowstorm. Then the typical slow struggle to spring settled in; a generally disagreeable weather pattern dominated the rest of the month into early May, punctuated by a nice early spring day here and there. Then from May 9-16 it snowed six out of eight days in most sections of the western and central Upper Peninsula.

      The big snow of this period hit the far west on the 12th. Ironwood collected a foot of snow, while Ontonagon measured 13.6 inches. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, straddling Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, accumulated even more: 16 inches at the park office. Workers who visited Summit Peak (1,950 feet) at the conclusion of the storm measured an astounding 36 inches! While the snow was wet and heavy at the office, typical of a late season fall, the summit snowfall was said to be as fluffy and dry as if it had fallen in January.

      The last snow in the series began quickly during the afternoon of the 16th. A strong, clipper-like low-pressure system raced in from the northwest. At 4:00 eastern daylight time, moderate snow was reported at both the Houghton County and Marquette County airports. A quick 3.2 inches fell at the NWS in Negaunee Township, causing slippery roads, which resulted in a number of accidents. The snow disappeared just as quickly the next morning.

      Warmer weather finally visited Upper Michigan the last half of May 1997. More moderate weather the last two weeks raised the average temperature at monthâ??s end to 44.8 degrees, still a healthy 5.4 degrees below the long-term average. The NWS recorded its first official 70 degree day on May 23, 1997, one of the latest on record.

      Weâ??ve already had one â??officialâ?? 70-degree day (this past Friday) at the NWS. It will not reach 70 for at least the next week. In fact, the trend is going back the other wayâ??to well below average. There couldâ??couldâ??even be some snow over parts of the U.P. late in the week. For the last couple of days, the European model has shown a deep trough developing over the western Great Lakes (Image 1 above). Its solution gradually entrains low pressure drifting out of the Ohio Valley into its circulation resulting in an unusually late-season snow for a good share of Upper Michigan (Image 2). The American GFS model, on the other hand, never captures the low and therefore never generates significant precipitation over us. However, this model is trending toward the European solution. Even its scenario would give the potential for at least some snowflakes in the air by late in the week.