Monday afternoon ice storm will likely cripple travel

Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-27 19:01:19-05

WEST MICHIGAN — As we outlined in a detailed post on Saturday a significant ice storm will unfold across Michigan Monday afternoon and evening. Read that post here. The Monday morning commute will NOT be impacted, but the afternoon/evening commute will not be pleasant. Dangerous and treacherous driving conditions are expected. It’s advised to stay off the roads during that time frame if at all possible!

WINTER STORM WARNINGS, WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES, AND FREEZING RAIN ADVISORIES have been posted for our entire area but they don’t go in to effect until Monday morning. See the graphics below. Anywhere from .25″ to .50″ of ice accumulation is possible. The worst conditions (including strong winds) are expected to be in the WARNING areas, with lesser amounts and slightly improved conditions in the ADVISORY counties along and south of I-94.


Winter Storm Warning


Winter Weather Advisory


Freezing Rain Advisory

We are expecting a snow/sleet mix to begin along the Michigan/Indiana border by mid/late morning, then change to freezing rain as it spreads northward through Grand Rapids and eventually our northern counties. Several hours of moderate to heavy freezing rain is likely during the afternoon/evening hours with temperatures stuck in the 20s most of the day. In fact, we could even see minor accumulations of sleet (ice) before the changeover to freezing rain occurs. See FutureTrack HD below. The image is valid for 6:00 PM Monday evening.



.25″ to .50″ of ice is significant. Coupled with strong easterly winds sustained at 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph could be quite crippling, perhaps devastating. Long term widespread power outages and downed trees/limbs are possible as the weight of the ice weighs heavy and swings back and forth for several hours. The strongest winds will be through the late afternoon/early evening hours. It’s been said that tree branches can increase their weight by as much as 30 times with ice attached, and several hundred pounds of added weight can plague power lines.

The image below is from our forecast model and shows wind gusts/speed/direction at 8:00 PM on Monday. Quite impressive to say the least! As an example Grand Rapids is expecting a sustained wind of 30 mph, gusts to 44 mph, and an easterly wind at that time.

RPM_Wind Speed_Gust_Direction

Predicted wind speeds & gusts

We should also note that the scope of this system is huge. This is the same system that generated tornadoes in Texas, killed almost a dozen people, and prompted blizzard warnings from the Texas panhandle, to winter storm warnings through Wisconsin and Michigan. There will undoubtedly be huge travel impacts felt from this system across the country from holiday travelers trying to return home. See all the watches/warnings/advisories across the United States below.


Alerts across the country

As the main low pressure area moves closer to Michigan Monday night, we’ll wrap in some slightly warmer air which will change any freezing precipitation to all rain (liquid) by late Monday evening/night. Our high temperature on Monday will make the middle 30s, but not until 11:00 PM or so. The graphic below shows what the National Weather Service model is predicting for total ice accumulation.


National Weather Service

Our FutureTrack HD computer forecast model for total ice accumulation can be found below. You can see the general continuity between various sources.


Predicted ice accumulations

Please be safe. I would highly recommend not traveling on West Michigan roads Monday afternoon/evening unless absolutely necessary. Don’t forget you can always email photos and reports to,, or post anything to our FOX 17 Facebook page. I’ll say thanks in advance. And don’t forget to keep those generators handy with fresh gas in the event we lose power. Make sure NOT to operate the generators inside the house, the basement, or anywhere that carbon monoxide fumes can enter a living area.

A general pattern change with sharply colder temperatures are in store this week with some minor accumulating snow likely here and there. Get the complete forecast at