There is a rhythm to winter in Michigan. Snow is not an everyday occurrence. In my opinion, every day seems remarkably different in its personality. The temperatures rise and fall, and there are three overarching rhythms that rule our weather. And you need a bunch of different kinds of footwear!
The winter season causes our temperatures to fall and set the atmosphere up to create snow. This is an everyday sort of winter. We might have snow some days, and we might not. Our warmest unusual days would be in the 60s as the upper baseline falls. In the summer that baseline might be in the 90s. Our lower baseline in St. Joe in winter is close to zero or in the teens.
The Storm –
Best Shoes: Slippers. Stay inside.
Storm systems are the influencer that can bring snow and very cold temperatures like we had this week with winter storm Jayden. They are much like thunderstorms in the south but instead of lightning and rain, they bring lower temperatures, wind and snow. These sit on top of the winter season and the lake temperature and can be intensified by either.
The Great Lakes affect our weather. For the most part, the lakes are warmer than the air temperature because there is so much water, and it takes longer to cool down. In the summer this is reversed. If a winter storm system comes through when the lake is warm, the warm water is literally a snow-making machine. The water is sucked up into the air, and the storm system spits it out as snow. It’s called the lake effect. If the lake is mostly frozen, it’s snow-making capabilities are diminished.
The Magical Ice Fest –
Best shoes: Snow boots, snowshoes, skis or anything warm that gets traction or provides slide.
With our warmer winter this year due to El Nino, we haven’t had snow, and the lake hasn’t frozen over. It was weird to see a summer-like lakefront well in January. In comes winter storm Jayden. Jayden gobbled up all that warm, toasty water in his polar vortex engine and dumped it on our little lakeside town. We were literally covered in snow. It was at once breathtaking, gorgeous and a pain in the ass.
The fun part… enjoying the snow Ice Fest 5K downtown:
Best shoes:Running shoes with two pairs of socks
Snow cover has its own rhythm. It can fall delicately like a beautiful snow globe or pelt us with hurricane-like ferociousness. While it’s still cold, the snow is beautiful. Snow highlights everything it covers in a soft blanketed light. The night is lit up with the reflection of light from ground. Neighbors wave at each other as they dig out. This is my favorite time, and I love to get out in it.
Best Shoes: Anything that will keep you dry!
Almost as soon as the storm ends, the temperatures rise. Everything melts. Icicles drip, drip, drip. Water puddles in huge puddles as it attempts to seep into the water-logged ground. The snow gets dirty and brown. Yesterday morning I ran in sub-freezing temperatures on packed snow and by 2 PM all the ice sculptures for Ice Fest were melting. The streets were covered in muck.
I thought I’d share some of the rhythm of Jayden with you. I understand Kia is fast on his heels. We’ll see what happens!