'Very uncommon': A nearly snowless December in Detroit

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News
James O'Connor, 13, breaks up a pass intended for Quinn O'Connor, right, 15, thrown by their father John O'Connor (not pictured) in the middle of Lawson street in Royal Oak on an unseasonably warm and sunny Friday afternoon, December 28, 2018.

When the National Weather Service says there will be “no weather to speak of over the weekend,” that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It just means we should have nothing requiring windshield wipers Saturday or Sunday.

And that also means we will have had a December in Metro Detroit with essentially no snow.

With just days to go before the end of the month, the National Weather Service reports 0.1 inch of snowfall. The last time Detroit saw so little snow in December was in 2014.

In fact, it's only ever happened three times since the agency began keeping records in 1874. In 1889, there was no December snow at all in Metro Detroit. 

On average, Detroit gets 8.9 inches. 

Curtis Crowe and his wife, Melissa, walk with their one-year-old son, Gabriel, as he rides in his remote-controlled, electric car on Beamer St., near Crocker and Metro Parkway in Harrison Township on Friday afternoon, December 28, 2018. Gabriel received the car from his aunt for a Christmas/birthday present when he turned one, Thursday. He also started treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic infant Leukemia (ALL) in October.

"It's very uncommon. It’s just the way that the storm tracks have set up this month," said Trent Frey, a meteorologist with the White Lake Township office. "Every system has been going in other directions away from us."

The next chance for snow could come on New Year's Eve, but no accumulation is expected, said Frey: "It will mostly be rain throughout the day Monday and then snow as the system is moving out."

But don't get too hopeful for a snow-less winter, he says. 

"Our current outlook is that we will get more on the snowier side in January and February — snowier than average," he said. 

Meteorologist Dave Gurney said the weekend forecast is “pretty quiet,” with partly to mostly sunny days and temperatures slightly above average.

Friday presented a major anomaly: a December 28 with a high reaching 56 degrees. The average for this time of year is 33 degrees, said Frey.

Saturday temperatures are expected to drop 20 degrees, settling in around 36, with a low of 28. On Sunday, the afternoon high will be 38 degrees, following a morning low of 25.

The historical average for the weekend is a high of 33 and a low of 21.

Looking ahead to New Year’s Day, the forecast is for sitting inside watching five college football bowl games, beginning with the Outback in Tampa, Florida, at noon and ending with the Sugar in New Orleans at 8:45 p.m.

Outdoors in Metro Detroit, Gurney said, the day will top out at 35, with a slight chance of rain or snow.

In Lansing, where governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer will take her oath of office in a ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m., the temperature will be lower — 30 degrees – with the chance of rain or snow higher.