Big January Thaw On The Way

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jan 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-07 07:19:34-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Whether we’re ready for it or not, a huge January warm-up and thaw is on the way for West Michigan this week.

After a cloudy day with a few light snow showers Sunday, high pressure will build in and deliver sunshine Monday and Tuesday as temps warm into the upper 30s to near 40.

As I outlined in a detailed post on Saturday here, I was forecasting highs to reach the low to mid 40s. That now looks to be a bit on the conservative side. Our forecast models are indicating that temps between 45 and 50 degrees are likely later this week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Even with clouds and rain expected to develop on Thursday afternoon, little to to no snow exists southwest of Michigan. That means warmer air pushing in from that direction should have no problem moving our temperatures to almost 50 degrees.

That’s news ski resorts and places like Cannonsburg andPandodon’t want to hear. There should be a cooldown on Sunday in the mid 30s after the main cold front passes through, but even those temps are a bit above the normal high. Grand Rapids is currently running a snow deficit for this time of year of about 23 inches.

People seem to like the chance to look at the same forecast models that meteorologists look at to help forecast the weather. That said, even the untrained eye can see the warmer weather in the forecast models. Take a look at temperatures (in Celsius) on this map valid for Wednesday evening. Look at the cooler colors over Michigan (light blue). Now look at the warmer colors coming in to Michigan by Thursday morning. By Thursday evening, the warmer tones of yellow are over Michigan indicating surface temps well into the 40s. The maps are actually atmospheric temperatures in degrees Celsius at 850 millibars, or about 5,000 feet above the surface. We look at this level to help forecast surface temperature in order to see the true airmass (and its movement) from one place to the next. These warmer temps also continue into Friday and Saturday.

In case you may be wondering what the record high temps are for Grand Rapids this week, it’s not impossible that we don’t at least come close:

  • Thursday we’re forecasting a high of 45. The record for January 10 is 57 set back in 1975.
  • We’re forecasting 46 on Friday, but the record high for January 11 is 55 set back in 1980.
  • And while we’re only forecasting 48 for this Saturday January 12, the record is 55 set back in 2005.

So while it appears we may fall short, anything is possible as we draw a bit closer to the event…so stay tuned to later forecasts.

The attached photo was taken by one of our newest FOX 17 news producers, Beth Lanning, of the ice at Holland State Park. Post your weather photos on our FOX 17 Facebook page, or email them to Click over to for the complete West Michigan forecast, 7-day, and temperature/radar maps.