WEST MICHIGAN — A rare fall storm is taking shape in the central plains this morning, it will intensify and move into the Great Lakes bringing the potential for severe weather. Over 18 million people are now within the high risk area, which now includes part of West Michigan. High risk categories are rare and are saved for situations of imminent severe weather. In the last two years only four high risk areas have been issued including today’s. This is the second time this year a high risk has been issued and both times have included southwest Michigan.
The risk for severe weather increases throughout the afternoon as winds pick up ahead of the cold front. Expect winds to increase after noon to around 20 to 30 miles per hour. Timing for storms at this point looks between 2pm and 6pm with most forecast models agreeing on 4pm arrival in metro Grand Rapids. Winds will be the primary threat as already gusty winds could increase in excess of 50 to 60 miles per hour. Straight line winds have the ability to create large areas of damage in a small amount of time so be extra cautious of quickly changing weather conditions. Large hail and an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out especially if cells form in advance of the squall line. Areas within the high risk have a 30 percent chance of having a tornado reported within 25 miles.
Storms that develop today will also be fast-moving, so it is important to have a severe weather plan in place prior to any warnings. Today is also a day to keep the weather radio handy and stay tuned to FOX 17 and social media. Our weather team will monitor the situation all afternoon and evening and bring you updates as conditions change.