TRAVERSE CITY — The question of how much snow has fallen on Traverse City this winter depends on who one asks.
But experts said it’s going to be ice, not snow, that will be problematic this weekend.
The Grand Traverse County Road Commission reported 105.3 inches of snow as of 8 a.m. on Jan. 8, but the National Weather Service in Gaylord listed the city at 65.8 inches at 7 a.m. that same day.
The difference comes from the way the various organizations measure precipitation. The road commission uses an average snowfall from measurements at several different locations and elevations throughout the county.
The National Weather Service reports the city’s snowfall based on one location: snow observed at Munson Medical Center.
Regardless of the source, much more snow has fallen this year compared to last year. The total compiled by the road commission already eclipsed the 103.5 inches of snow recorded for the county in the entire winter of 2012-2013.
The National Weather Service reported 57.5 inches of snow by Dec. 31, 2013, compared to 11.7 inches as of Dec. 31, 2012. The weather service also predicts city residents can expect to shovel as much or more snow this month than the 27.6 inches they moved in January 2013.
So fire up those snowblowers, that’s a prediction of 19.3 inches more for January.
This weekend temperatures in the mid-30s could melt some of that snow, although the warmer temperatures will be accompanied by rain much of today.
The precipitation could freeze and form ice.
“Where it hits on backroad surfaces and things like that, that are compacted snow and ice, it’ll be a pretty sloppy mess there, it can be pretty slick,” said Keith Berger, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord.
The Grand Traverse County Road Commission spent Friday preparing roads for upcoming rain. Trucks spread salt and salt brine and cleared shoulders of snow to allow for maximum water drainage.
“The surface temperature of the road is probably going to be below freezing, so when we get this rain, we’re most likely going to have freezing rain on the roads, so it’s going to be slick and icy conditions,” said Jim Cook, road commission manager.