First Snow in Michigan: The Earliest & Latest First Snows on Record

Written by August Croft
Updated: October 3, 2023
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Bordering Canada and divided by the Great Lakes, you may be wondering when the first snow in Michigan typically falls. This state isn’t necessarily known for its mild winters and living here during the months of December and January is nothing to scoff at. But how much snow does Michigan typically get during a winter season, and what can you expect out of the first snowfall in this region? 

In this article, we will address when snowfall typically begins in the state of Michigan as well as what you can expect out of the average temperatures during the wintertime. We will also go over the specific regions of the state and how winter weather conditions vary across these regions. Let’s get started and talk all about wintertime in Michigan now! 

Understanding First Snow in Michigan 

first snow in michigan

No matter where you live in Michigan, you’re likely to see snow during the wintertime.

©Christopher Tipton/Shutterstock.com

Michigan Snowfall Facts
Earliest First SnowfallOctober 12 (2006)
Latest First SnowfallDecember 29 (1998)
Average Temperature13-37 degrees Fahrenheit
Largest Seasonal Snowfall355 inches (1978-1979)
Smallest Seasonal Snowfall81 inches (1930-1931)
Places to Enjoy the SnowBrighton Recreational Area, Lansing, Ottawa National Forest

No matter where you live in Michigan, you’re likely to see snow during the wintertime. In fact, the state of Michigan has a higher amount of snow on average compared to the US as a whole. Depending on where you live, Michigan averages anywhere from 60 to 85 inches of snow in a single winter season, with many locations averaging over 100 inches during the wintertime. 

But when does the snow begin in Michigan on average, and are there any dates that have been particularly out of the ordinary? Let’s talk about that now. 

Earliest and Latest Snowfalls in Michigan 

first snow in michigan

Depending on where you live, Michigan averages anywhere from 60 to 85 inches of snow in a single winter season.

©iStock.com/Hunter Freeland

The average first snow in Michigan occurs sometime between the end of October to the beginning of November, depending on the specific region you live in. However, October 12th, 2006 is largely credited with the earliest first snowfall in Michigan’s history. While this date may be inaccurate for some locations in the state, particularly the northernmost portions, this is the earliest date for measurable snow for some regions. 

In direct contrast to the first and earliest snowfall date on record, the latest first snowfall date in the state of Michigan is December 29th, 1998. This means that the state of Michigan made it through all of October and November without snowfall, and the entire month of December nearly past as well! Again, this may not be true for all locations in Michigan given the northern proximity of the state, but some records suggest that no snow fell in Michigan in 1998 until the end of December! 

Largest and Smallest Snowfalls in Michigan 

Given Michigan’s proximity to the Great Lakes, they experience high levels of snow and winter weather conditions, likely attributed to the lake effect. There are many different heavy snowfall records throughout Michigan’s history, but the winter of 1978 to 1979 saw over 350 inches of snowfall in the state! 

In direct contrast to this, the wintertime of 1930 to 1931 only size 81 inches of snowfall in Michigan. While this number is above average for the majority of the United States, Michigan is no stranger to snow. 81 inches over the course of an entire winter season isn’t very much in the grand scheme of their typical winters, especially when you consider the fact that 100 inches of snow is normal for much of the state. 

Winter Temperatures in Michigan 

first snow in michigan

October 12th, 2006 is largely credited with the earliest first snowfall in Michigan’s history.

©Standret/Shutterstock.com

Michigan is truly a winter wonderland for a number of reasons, but what are the average winter temperatures like in this region? Divided by the Great Lakes, here are some specific statistics for Michigan and its various regions. 

Northern Michigan 

While the winter season for the rest of the United States typically ends sometime in the month of February, northern Michigan experiences winter weather until the end of March if not the end of April. Some northern towns and cities in Michigan see over 100 inches of snow annually, if not close to 200 inches of snow! Their average winter weather temperatures range anywhere from 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Central Michigan 

Lansing is a fairly populated city in Michigan, located at the center of the state. This portion of Michigan is warmer than its northernmost regions, but it still experiences roughly 50 to 80 inches of snow every winter. In terms of its average temperature, Lansing ranges anywhere from 15 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit during the wintertime. 

Southern Michigan 

Bordered by Ohio and Indiana to the south, southern Michigan is slightly warmer compared to the prior regions we’ve already discussed. However, snow levels are still high for this part of the nation, and average winter temperatures range anywhere from 20 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Winter Wildlife in Michigan 

first snow in michigan

Given Michigan’s proximity to the Great Lakes, they experience high levels of snow and winter weather conditions.

©David Osborn/Shutterstock.com

If the snow doesn’t scare you, Michigan is full of natural beauty and parks for you to explore during wintertime. Wildlife is common throughout the state, and here are some of the animals you might see on your visit: 

What Was the Worst Snowstorm Ever in Michigan?

The winter of 1978-79 had the record total seasonal snowfall at 355 inches, but it was the winter just the year before that had the worst snowstorm ever. It is generally agreed that on January 26 and 27, 1978, Michigan experienced the most extensive and severe blizzard in its history.

The storm occurred in Southeast Michigan and came with hurricane force winds, which brought air and land traffic to a complete standstill. Snowfall amounts ranged from 16-30 inches. Even Detroit, in the very corner of southeast Michigan, got 8.2 inches. About 20 people died in the storm, mostly from heart attacks and traffic accidents, and 100,000 cars were abandoned on Michigan highways. The snow fell for 24 hours straight during what was also one of the coldest winters on record in Michigan.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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Sources
  1. Snowfall Records, Available here: https://www.mtu.edu/alumni/favorites/snowfall/