WEST MICHIGAN — While we may be in the heart of the winter, it doesn’t make it any easier to take what Mother Nature is about to deliver. My job as a Meteorologist is to make certain I can provide the very best information so we can prepare accordingly and stay safe!
My cohort, Meteorologist Kelly Smith, wrote a comprehensive article on FOX 17 addressing several issues, including snowfall amounts and how our forecast models are handling this event. Click here to read it.
I can say all forecast models are still painting the heaviest snowfall through Sunday night from Grand Rapids to the south/west/east with a solid 6″-12″ likely. That said, some of those same locations may see as much as 10″-14″…the possibility is certainly there. The culprit is a wave of low pressure that will develop along a cold front and ride along the front, pull in Gulf moisture, and plant the heaviest swath of snow across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Areas north of Grand Rapids will see about 3″-6″ through Sunday night. That’s the first punch!
Punch two will be the arrival of a brutally cold Arctic air mass Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday. At least it will be brief, by air temperatures after being moderated by Lake Michigan will generally be between zero and five above Monday and Tuesday. That means salt or other chemicals to clear roads simply won’t work…too cold!
Punch three will be the arrival Monday and Tuesday of strong westerly winds on the order of at least 20 to 30 mph. That will produce brutal, dangerous, life-threatening wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero. All outdoor activities should be limited in this type of weather! Prolonged exposure can easily result in frostbite, especially on things like fingers, ears, noses, and toes. A Wind Chill Watch has already been posted for the area on Sunday night through Tuesday.
If Mother Nature was to throw a fourth punch, it would be more accumulating lake-effect snow on Monday and Tuesday along/west of U.S. 131. Another 4″-8″ is likely during that time frame with considerable blowing and drifting across north/south roads. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see brief blizzard and/or white-out conditions in these areas at times. Again…I suggest not venturing outside unless absolutely necessary. I’m sure we’ll see the cancellation of several schools on these days just do to temperatures and wind chills.
The Arctic air will lift out by Wednesday as temperatures return to the mid/upper teens and the winds die down. Longer range models actually have more light snow coming in Wednesday night/Thursday morning, then a warm up in to the 30s with the possibility if mixed precipitation rain/ice/snow Friday night/Saturday morning. Make sure to stay up on later forecasts! The attached photo was submitted by Heather Kennedy and was taken of the ice on Lake Michigan.
Below is a look at the warnings/advisories across our area. Winter Storm Warnings in pink through Sunday night. Winter Weather Advisories in purple through Sunday night.
To give everyone an idea of the scope and magnitude of this system, here are the warnings/advisories across the entire Midwest. Several states will be impacted and heavy snow is anticipated in multiple states.
We’ll continue to update through this entire event at www.fox17online.com. To check radar, satellite, current temperatures, wind chills, or the 7-Day forecast, head to http://www.fox17online.com/weather