Freezing Rain Expected for Parts of West Michigan Thursday

Posted at 10:01 AM, Apr 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-02 10:01:19-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 2, 2014) — People in West Michigan looking to hit the roads or catch flights to Spring Break destinations will need to keep their fingers crossed that icy conditions don’t hamper their travel plans the rest of this week.

A one-two punch of storm systems will affect the region Thursday and Friday, bringing mostly rain to the area, but with the potential to create a period of freezing rain that could make driving or flying difficult, especially through around midday Thursday.

As the above snapshot from FOX 17 Future Track HD shows Thursday morning, a band of rain will push into areas where temperatures will hover near the freezing mark.  While areas along and south of I-94 will remain mostly liquid, some freezing rain, sleet, and ice will likely develop around the central and northern sections of the FOX 17 viewing area.  Most computer forecast models have locked in on the idea that ice accumulations of around one-quarter to one-half of an inch are possible.  This, combined with winds of 15 to 30 miles per hour, may be enough to bring down some tree limbs or power lines and result in outages.

Here is a forecast projection of freezing rain for Grand Rapids, combining the output of several different computers:

freezing rain plot

You can see most of that icing taking place from around 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Thursday (12 to 18 UTC).  Even if these amounts are overdone (as they can often be in computer simulations), even a light coating of ice could easily cause issues.

If there is good news, it is that temperatures will slowly climb above freezing Thursday into Friday, alleviating any longer-term impacts on road conditions.  However, the additional rainfall expected on Friday will contribute to a continuation of high river levels around West Michigan into next week.

Because the exact conditions will depend on very slight variations in temperatures, expect that the forecast may change somewhat as we continue through the rest of the day Wednesday.  You can find updates on FOX 17 News and on the Weather page.