BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Forecasters predict heavy snow today, but the Grand Traverse region remains well below average levels of the winter powder.
Accumulation predictions range from four to 10 inches through Friday, with heavier snow expected in the southern and southeastern parts of the region.
The Traverse City area saw just shy of 38 inches of snow through Wednesday, said Tim Locker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord. Average snowfall for the area through the first week of February is 65.5 inches.
Locker attributed this year's low totals to below-average precipitation in December and early January, but that began to change in the last three weeks. The Grand Traverse region has experienced 10 days with an inch or more of snowfall since Jan. 21.
Today's expected winter storm follows sunny skies and slightly warmer temperatures that many Traverse City residents enjoyed on Wednesday.
Adam Smith spent the afternoon walking the grounds at Grand Traverse Commons, where he shot photos with his film camera.
"I'm trying to get some cool composition shots of the sun and the clouds and what-not," Smith said.
Smith welcomed the prospect of more snow while standing in Wednesday's sunshine. He rattled off a long list of his favorite winter sports and activities, everything from skiing and snowmobiling to throwing a snowball at an unsuspecting victim.
"I love all the seasons," he said. "If you live up here, you might as well enjoy it."
Mickie Koenig and Pattie Smith stopped to discuss the weather as they shopped at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. They voiced less enthusiasm than Adam Smith about today's predicted snow.
Koenig described this winter as rough, and Pattie Smith said snowstorms hurt business at the dentist office where she works in downtown Traverse City.
"We always have a lot of cancellations, so it leads to big holes in our day," Pattie Smith said.
Koenig said she gets out less when the temperature drops and snow falls.
"She tells me she gets cabin fever," Pattie Smith added.
The two women planned to take a long walk after shopping and before the weather turned nasty.
The snowstorm, expected to worsen this afternoon, is the result of an "Alberta Clipper" phasing with a storm system that developed over the central plains, Locker said.
Temperatures today and Friday should range from lows near 20 to highs in the 30s.
Thermometers could dip to single digits on Saturday morning, but high temperatures will climb to about 35 by Sunday.
A mixed rain and snowstorm is predicted for Sunday.