West Michigan dodges real ice storm bullet

Posted at 8:14 PM, Dec 28, 2015

WEST MICHIGAN — We’re lucky! While our forecast called for several hours of freezing rain and ice accumulation between .25″ and .50″, most of the area will end up with some lighter freezing rain and ice accumulations between .10″ and .25″.

Why? It’s simple…we dodged a bullet thanks to an extended period of snow and sleet. While sleet (ice) accumulated in several areas up to two inches, it’s not to be confused with freezing rain and ice accretion…when liquid rain falls and freezes on surfaces at or below 32 degrees.

That type of precipitation weighs heavy on power lines, tree limbs, and branches. All that weight coupled with strong winds can create widespread prolonged power outages. Thus far, more than 17,000 are without power, but that number would have skyrocketed with more freezing rain.

What seems to have occurred is a far more deeper layer of colder air above the surface that allowed for frozen precipitation to fall rather than liquid to freezing rain. In general great for us, power lines, and limited accidents! That said, we did have areas like Holland that measured a 51 mph wind gust, Grand Rapids at 47 mph, and Muskegon at 49 mph.

Make no mistake...roads are still slippery and icy, but the magnitude of the ice accumulation has diminished greatly. We'll see temperatures warm in to the 30s overnight and all lingering precipitation will change to plain light rain from south to north.

We'll also turn from windy to breezy conditions overnight going from east to south at about 10 - 15 mph.
Tuesday will feature a few light rain showers in the morning with highs in the upper 30s, then perhaps a few flakes in the afternoon as the colder air filters in behind this system.

The scope of this winter storm was incredible. A tornado outbreak in eastern Texas, blizzard warnings in the Texas panhandle, and icy conditions from Chicago (cancelling or delaying hundreds of flights), to ice in the Great Lakes. This storm system was responsible for at least two dozen deaths in the south and the worst tornado outbreak in December in 60 years.

West Michigan remains under a WINTER STORM WARNING through 6 AM Tuesday for icy roads and slippery conditions. Roads should be greatly improved by Tuesday with rising temperatures and much lighter precipitation. Get the complete forecast at