Powerful Storm Brings Strong Winds

Posted at 10:54 PM, Dec 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 09:09:11-05

WEST MICHIGAN – A powerful low pressure system and winter storm will bring strong winds to the Great Lakes on Friday.

Many locations around West Michigan tabulated at least three quarters to one inch of rain on Thursday, with even a few inches of snow occurring across our northern counties in the morning. Our high temperature in Grand Rapids actually made 47 degrees. We’ll be cooler on Friday and beyond with highs expected in the mid 30s.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIESare in effect for all of our area from 1:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. Friday. A combination of strong winds, light accumulating snow, and blowing snow will make for some tougher-than-normal travel. Most of our area will see about one to two inches of snow, with some isolated three inch amounts. Berrien and Cass Counties in the extreme southwest portion of the state are under WINTER STORM WARNINGS. It’s possible a little more snow occurs there if a persistent lake-effect snowband materializes with a northwest wind.

Expect sustained winds in inland locations around 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 40 to 50 mph possible. At the lakeshore, look for sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 to perhaps 60 mph. With STORM WARNINGSon Lake Michigan, waves will build to 15 to 20 with the highest occurring from South Haven to Benton Harbor with a strong north/west flow. These winds will certainly rival that of Superstorm Sandy that occurred a couple of months back. You can track current conditions across the state, including wind speeds and gusts each hour here.

The attached photo is a snapshot at 9:00 AM Friday from our computer forecast model. Look at the position of the low and remember that everything rotates around it in a counterclockwise fashion. That said, the strongest winds, coldest air, and snow are on the backside of this system for us on Friday. The white/gray lines around the low are lines of constant/equal air pressure…we call them isobars. The more there are,/the closer they are together, the stronger the wind field. The snow will taper off through Friday afternoon for most locations, but the winds won’t completely relax until later Saturday.

This system produced blizzard conditions across several states (Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska) with 8 to 12 inches of snow, even some isolated 18 inch amounts. I talked extensively about the track of this system on Monday. The reason? If this storm had tracked another 100 to 200 miles further south/east, the blizzard would have been over Michigan. In the big scheme of things…that was a near miss! On the southern end of this system in the deep south, strong damaging winds, perhaps even a tornado or two were reported across Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. This storm has already impacted travel with delays at several airports and at least some carriers canceling flights.

Make sure to send your weather reports and photos to or post them on the FOX 17 Facebook page. Thanks in advance! Get complete weather updates as well as radar, temperatures, and a look at our FutureTrack HD forecast model by going to