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White Christmas sure bet

From left: Siblings Listten, 12, Jacob, 10, and Lily Wagner, 3, of Goodrich create a snowman and snowbaby. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
December 22, 2010 - Santa, don't forget the sleds.

A white Christmas in Ortonville and Goodrich is assured thanks to continuing cold temperatures and a Dec. 12 storm that dumped six to eight inches of snow in the area.

"Traditionally, a white Christmas is defined as 1-inch or more of snow on the ground," said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, White Lake.

While there will definitely be a snow cover on the ground, he was uncertain on Monday whether snow would be falling here on Friday and Saturday.

"On Christmas Eve and Christmas, a couple systems could bring another swath of snow, it's hard to say how much," Mosteiko said. "It could be nothing or flurries to four inches. Two of the main models have it tracking south of us."

The overall outlook for this winter calls for temperatures slightly below normal, with average to above average snowfall, said NWS Climatologist Bill Deedler. These conditions are typical for a La Niña winter, which is being experienced this year.

"La Niña is more common now because Pacific waters cooler than what they used to be," Deedler said. "La Niña is coming more often. In the last five years, we have had three. Next year, it will be a neutral or weak El Niño, with warmer than normal water temps. The current forecast calls for a neutral period starting this summer."

Normal winter snowfall in the Ortonville area is about 50 inches, said Deedler. Currently, the area is running about average, with 10-11 inches of snow recorded in December. Overall, 55-65 inches of snow are expected this winter.

Temperatures, however, are well below normal. Ortonville's average temperature this month has been about 22.5 degrees.

"Normal temps for December would be 29.6, so it's quite a bit colder," said Deedler. "From Christmas to New Year's, the temps will average normal. There are no cold blasts on extended maps. Compared to what we had the first half of the month, the temps are closer to normal. At this time, normals drop off, because we're more into the dead of winter. The coldest period of winter comes in mid-January, but a lot of times that's when we hit the January thaw. Late January to mid-February is when we begin to warm up on average."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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