Light Snow, Gusty Winds Still Cause Weather-Related Headaches

Posted at 10:51 AM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 11:14:01-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Even without significant snowfall around West Michigan, a powerful storm system still caused problems with strong winds that resulted in downed trees and power lines.

Rain took its time changing over to snow Friday morning, resulting in unimpressive accumulations around most of the FOX 17 viewing area.  In many spots, temperatures that held up overnight kept snow from sticking to pavement, causing main roads to merely be wet.  However, less-traveled county roads saw some icy patches develop as temperatures slipped to near or below the freezing mark.  Drivers did run into problems even with the lower snow amounts.  Semi trucks were reported sliding off of freeways in places like I-94 east of Hartford, I-196 near Holland, and US-31 near Whitehall.

A single, relatively narrow, band of lake-effect snow developed Friday morning as well, leaving about one to three inches in a few locations before shifting eastward and diminishing.  Northern Michigan saw the bulk of the snow, with accumulations of eight to sixteen inches reported from near Cadillac through Sault Ste. Marie.

Snow will continue to gradually wind down Friday, with only a few flurries expected into the evening.

Wind, however, is an entirely different story; as FOX 17 meteorologists forecast over the last two days, the wind caused more issues than the snow itself around West Michigan.

Gusts of 60 to 70 miles per hour were reported along much of the Lake Michigan coastline Friday morning, with the highest gust of 70 mph coming at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab station at South Haven.  Inland gusts were generally around 40 miles per hour.

Those wind gusts knocked down trees and power lines, resulting in scattered power outages, especially in the southwest corner of the state.  Here are links to updated outage maps from Consumers Energy, Midwest Energy Cooperative, and Great Lakes Energy.

One tree fell on a house in Niles, resulting in two minor injuries, according to a National Weather Service report.  A Montague Area Public Schools bus also hit a downed tree in the road, severely damaging the bus, but not injuring the driver or the handful of kids riding at the time.

Strong wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour are expected to continue through Friday afternoon before slowly diminishing Friday night into Saturday.

The rest of the weekend forecast is uneventful, with partial sunshine and highs in the mid 30s.  You can check out interactive radar and the 7 Day Forecast through Christmas Day on the Weather page.

PHOTO COURTESY: Oceana County Sheriff’s Department