Winter storm blankets region, again

ESCANABA – Winter weather pelted the region with snow and high winds once again today. Experts believe that this year’s severe winter weather is not abnormal and more storms may be on their way.

Escanaba received 6 inches of snow last night, according to records kept by the Escanaba Water Plant. The National Weather Service predicts another 1 1/2 to 2 inches of snow will fall in Escanaba today. Residents can also expect another half-inch overnight.

The severe weather prompted many area schools to close their doors today, including Bark River-Harris, Bay Middle College, Big Bay de Noc, Delta-Schoolcraft ISD, Escanaba, Gladstone, Holy Name, Manistique, Mid Peninsula, Rapid River and St. Francis de Sales.

Despite the closures, the snowfall amounts being reported by NWS observers are not abnormal for February.

“The normal is around 10 inches for this month and we’re around seven,” said Megan Dodson, meteorologist for the NWS’s Marquette Office.

While not abnormal, annual snowfall totals have increased dramatically since last year. Water Plant annual totals are measured from the first snowfall in the fall to the end of February. So far for the 2012-13 year 45.5 inches have fallen in the area. Only 9.28 inches of snow fell during the 2011-2012 season.

Last year’s season was abnormally dry and provided the least snowfall in five years, this season’s snowfall is the heaviest that it has been since the 2008-09 season when snowfall totals reached a staggering 76.35 inches.

Snowfall totals for 2012-13 may still change as the area braces for another storm similar to today’s storm.

“A similar system will be moving in next week,” said Dodson. “Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll probably be seeing another storm like this one, but that’s quite a ways out so take it with a grain of salt.”

Even with another storm on the way, the number of winter storms the area has seen this year is not atypical.

“I think it’s pretty normal. It just seems like there’s more,” said Dodson, adding last year’s low snowfall totals may make it seem like there are more winter storms than usual.

In addition to snow, today’s storm system brings with it wind gusts topping 30 miles per hour. These winds bring the added hazard of blowing snow.