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A snowy winter is on its way

News Photo by Julie Riddle Readying for winter, Kim Muszynski corrals leaves with a leaf-blower. Several sizable, golden-leaved trees in his 1st Avenue yard just started dropping their leaves. “They’re pretty up there, but they’re not pretty down here,” said Muszynski, who scoops up 30 bags of leaves from his yard every fall.

ALPENA — It’s going to be a snowy winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

Temperatures may or may not be colder than usual, but Michiganders can expect snow drifts to pile higher than usual this year, according to a 90-day winter outlook shared by forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

Small swaths of the northern U.S., including Michigan, will probably experience more precipitation than usual in November, December, and January, the report predicted.

“Which, for us, means snow,” said meteorologist Dan Cornish of the National Weather Service office in Gaylord.

The average snowfall in Alpena is 84 inches, or 7 feet.

Some parts of northern Michigan could see flakes in the next few days — nothing to cause homeowners to crack out their shovels, though, Cornish said. Cold night temperatures may bring snow to inland communities at higher elevations, but Alpena is not expected to see snowfall in the next week.

At the end of autumn, the ground isn’t frozen and won’t retain snow, but flakes may still form while falling through chilly air as temperatures drop. Alpena, its air temperatures impacted by its nearness to Lake Huron, needs to look for temperatures hovering around 32 degrees before snow flakes make an appearance, Cornish said.

While much of the country is predicted by NOAA to have warmer-than-usual weather this winter, Michigan is in a belt of states with a 50-50 chance of temperatures being either warmer or colder than normal.

“The jury’s still out on that,” Cornish said.

Nearly half of the country, including the western states and parts of the Northeast, is experiencing drought now, according to the winter outlook. With a La Nina climate pattern currently in place, drought conditions may get worse in those states during winter, forecasters said.

Warm weather combined with sunny, dry days near the beginning of leaf-changing season contributed to this year’s bright, striking autumn leaves, Cornish said. Rainy and cloudy days as leaves are preparing to change lead to mostly yellow foliage, but sunshine at just the right time treats residents to trees full of reds.

As temperatures drop, so will the leaves, Cornish said, but meteorologists at the Gaylord office say this year’s color show has been the best in 25 years.

“It’s been a little bright spot in 2020, for sure,” Cornish said.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.

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