DETROIT – Snow is such a familiar part of life here in Michigan. Nothing quite screams winter like beautifully coated tree branches and brown slush lining our streets.
And when our winter season is lacking snow, we definitely notice its absence. After a drier start to our 2022-2023 winter season, many are rejoicing in the snow finally stacking up around Metro Detroit -- and there’s more on the way.
Some winter seasons are certainly drier than others, but there is always at least some snow that falls. Data from 1969-2022 confirms that, with accumulating snow recorded during every winter season between those years.
Curious about which years and months had the most and least snowfall during that time frame, I dug through some data from the National Weather Service. Here’s what I found.
Detroit’s snowiest time of year
Winter is, obviously, the snowiest time of the year in Detroit. Temperatures are cold enough for precipitation to fall as snow instead of rain.
So, it makes sense that the snowiest months of the year are December through March -- the coldest months of the year. Snow does sometimes fall in November, and there have been small amounts of snow recorded during October, April and May.
But December through February sees the most snow of all.
When looking at monthly snow reports between 1969-2022, the months that saw the most snowfall, on average, were:
- January, with an average of 12.57 inches of snow;
- February, with an average of 11.46 inches of snow; and
- December, with an average of 10.05 inches of snow.
As you’d likely expected, the average snowfall for the months of July, August, September, and June was zero inches.
Between 1969-2022, the average monthly snowfall in May was 0.01 inches, and the average monthly snowfall in October was 0.13 inches.
Here’s the average monthly snowfall between 1969-2022 in graph form:
Snowiest months, years in Detroit
The absolute snowiest winter season in Detroit was the 2013-2014 winter season, which recorded 94.9 inches of snow. During that winter season, 15.5 inches of snow fell in December 2013, 39.1 inches of snow fell in January 2014, 23.4 inches fell in February and 12.5 inches fell in March. Some light snow also fell in November and April that season.
The second-snowiest winter season, 1981-1982, saw 20 fewer inches of snow, recording 74 inches of snow in total.
The 2007-2008 winter season saw 71.1 inches, with February 2008 being the snowiest month of that season, recording 24.2 inches of snow. The 2010-2011 winter season saw 69.1 inches of snow, with the snowiest month -- also February -- recording 31.7 inches.
Here are the top 10 snowiest years in Detroit between 1969-2022 in graph form:
As previously mentioned, the three snowiest months during 1969-2022 were January, February and December.
Here are the complete snow totals from every month of every year in that time frame added together:
- All Januaries: 666.2 inches of snow total
- All Februaries: 607.6 inches
- All Decembers: 532.6 inches
- All Marches: 335.4 inches
- All Novembers: 135.7 inches
- All Aprils: 90.4 inches
- All Octobers: 6.8 inches
- All Mays: 0.6 inches
- All Junes: 0 inches
- All Julys: 0 inches
- All Augusts: 0 inches
- All Septembers: 0 inches
These are the singular months that saw the most snow between 1969-2022:
- January 2014: 39.1 inches
- December 1974: 34.9 inches
- February 2011: 31.7 inches
- January 1978: 29.6 inches
- January 1999: 27.3 inches
- February 2010: 27 inches
- January 2005: 26.9 inches
- February 2015: 26.4 inches
- January 2009: 25.2 inches
- December 2000: 25.1 inches
Picture break: On Feb. 2, 2015, Detroit received over a foot of snow -- and this poor guy had to dig his car out of it. ⬇️
Least snowiest months, years in Detroit
On the other end of the spectrum, some winter seasons in Detroit saw very little snow in comparison.
The 1982-1983 winter season only recorded 20 inches of snow in total. March 1983 saw the most snow of that particular season, but only recorded 7.6 inches in total.
The 1997-1998 winter season saw the second smallest snow totals, recording 23.4 inches overall. The 1999-2000 winter season recorded 23.7 inches.
Here are the 10 least snowiest years in Detroit between 1969-2022 in graph form:
As mentioned above, there were no snow totals recorded for the months of June, July, August or September of any year. Some months did receive what’s considered a “trace” of snow.
According to the NWS, a trace of snow means that snow did fall from the sky, but it continually melted as it landed. A trace of snow means accumulation never reached 0.1 inches on the surface.
The average monthly snowfall in May was 0.01 inches. Only two Mays in that whole time frame reported snow: May in 2020 saw 0.5 inches, and May in 2005 saw 0.1 inches. Trace amounts of snow were reported during May for nine different years.
The average monthly snowfall in October from 1969-2022 was 0.13 inches. Only two Octobers saw more than two inches of snow, and many others were either below one inch or considered a trace amount of snow.
Here are all of the snow totals in Detroit from 1969-2022 in graph form:
You can see the data I used from the NWS on their website here.
Previously, on Data Drop: