Winter Storm Arrives Tonight: What You Need To Know

Posted at 12:03 PM, Nov 20, 2015

WEST MICHIGAN- We’ve been chatting about it for days, but now the snow is mere hours away.  Should you go buy bread and milk and generators in order to prepare?   Do you need to buy a brand new snowblower just to carve a path for you to get the mail tomorrow? (“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow…”)  The answer to both of these questions is no, unless you’re looking to be extra cautious and prepared.  You may need them in the future, certainly, but this is just the first snowfall of the season.  There are some impacts that you need to be prepared for, though.


The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect for our entire area until Sunday at 7 AM.  I would expect this to change as the storm gets a bit closer, but as I’m writing this post, this is the case.  Just know that this is a “heads up” that accumulating snowfall headed our way is a pretty safe bet.


By tonight at 11 PM, Future Track shows the first band of snow moving into most of the area.  This lines up well with what it’s been saying for much of the last several days, in addition to the current radar imagery from out west.  Also note the wind direction, while fairly calm, is off the lake.  This will add a slightly warmer layer of air to the surface, which will limit the initial snowfall


Later on in the morning, additional snowfall spreads through the area, and the winds switch out of the east.  This will make things slightly cooler, and would be the beginning of the time I believe snow will begin to stick in at least the grassy areas.

RPM 3 (1)

Just before noon, heavier snow begins to fall in all of West Michigan. Future Track even indicates a few heavier bands to the south.  You may recall previous totals on the lighter side for our southern areas.  With the storm’s center shifting slightly south, this allowed for slightly higher snowfall totals in these areas.  At this time, the heavier bands of snow and colder air at the surface will have the opportunity to overcome the warm soil temperature and area.  Our greatest accumulation will occur during this time, all the way into the evening.

RPM 4 (2)

Colder air moves in by lunchtime, and this is when the grassy surfaces won’t be the only areas with accumulating snow.  Snowfall rates will be high enough at this time, and at this time, roadways will begin having snow stuck to the surface.  By late evening, snow becomes much more scattered in nature as the entire storm moves to the east.


Your timeline for tonight through Saturday? Less accumulation tonight into Saturday morning as temps fall and the bulk of the storm arrives.  Colder air mixes with the most precipitation late morning into early afternoon, and that’s when the snowfall rates and colder air finally erode the warm pavement and other variables affecting accumulation.

Garry Snowfall Total (1)

Snowfall totals have been updated as a result.  As I mentioned above, heavier snowfall now centralized in southern areas of West Michigan, where the difference in previous forecasts lies north of Interstate 96, with totals decreasing the further north you go.

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