Temps expected to rise back to 'normal'
Ice formations created by waves from Lake Michigan frame Point Betsie Lighthouse north of Frankfort. The lighthouse, which towers 52 feet above the lake, was built in 1858.
TRAVERSE CITY Winter weather is expected to return to "normal next week after one of the coldest February starts in recent history.
"It doesn't look like we are going to see any of that bitterly cold air we have been seeing, said Kevin Sullivan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord. "It is going to be more of a normal pattern. Normal temperatures and normal precipitation.
A cold air surge is expected to bring some snow showers and a wind chill of around zero degrees this weekend before southern winds will warm things into the 30s next week to break a streak of below-average February temperatures, Sullivan said.
"Through the first 14 days of February, this is the ninth coldest start in last 100-plus years, Sullivan said. "Our normal high for February is around 30 degrees. That is pretty close to what we are going to be seeing next week.
A weak storm system could bring some light snow showers or possibly rain into the region Monday night or early Tuesday.
Temperatures are expected to stay close to freezing and could drop back into the 20s toward the end of next week. Overnight lows will be in the mid-teens, Sullivan said.
"The wind blowing off the cold lakes makes it hard to get much above freezing, he said. "Especially for coastal areas.
Ice fishing shanties have popped up on smaller lakes and on the backwaters of the Grand Traverse Bay during February's frigid temperatures, but Sullivan said wind conditions are not ideal to freeze over the entire West Bay.
"The conditions you need for open water to freeze is light winds and bitterly cold temperatures, Sullivan said. "Our winds ... kind of keep the bay turning. Those currents kind of keep it from freezing over completely.
The last time the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay officially froze over as far out as Power Island was for 42 days in 2003.
It has only frozen over five times since 1987, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce ice records show.
Between 1851 and 1980, the west arm of the Grand Traverse Bay froze at least seven years per decade, according to a study conducted by Michigan State University District Horticulturist James E. Nugent.
Nugent's study indicates that the bay-freezing trend shows "a long-term gradual decline with a significant decline in the past 25 to 35 years.