Damaging windstorm sets its sights on West Michigan; Winter Storm Watch issued

Posted at 11:59 AM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 23:25:51-05

WEST MICHIGAN -- There is still time for you to get prepared for a likely damaging wind event this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch starting Sunday morning and lasting through the day.

Sunday's powerful winter storm could bring some of the strongest winds West Michigan has seen all season. A storm this strong usually only happens once a year.

Wind gusts of at least 50 miles per hour look likely at this point and in some locations, wind gusts could approach 60 miles per hour. This would be the strongest wind West Michigan has seen since June 2018. The strong wind will also be around the majority of the day Sunday, meaning extended strain on tree limbs and power lines. Forth those of you that remember the Edmund Fitzgerald storm in November of 1975 and have barometers at home, this storm system will likely rival that with a low pressure of around 975 millibars!

Current weather models paint a very strong area of low pressure north of Lake Huron Sunday afternoon. A stronger low pressure system means stronger wind channeled into the area. Based on what the area typically sees in the winter, the intense drop in pressure coming Sunday means a rare system for the Great Lakes.

One piece of good news for us in all of this, the track of this storm will be to our west and then north, meaning it will be primarily rain for the area Saturday/Saturday night with snow behind it on Sunday. It is when we start to see the snow again that the wind really kicks into gear as the low pressure continues to gain strength to the north. The howling winds during the snowfall could lead to near-blizzard conditions in spots.

If the wind ends up being as strong as currently forecast, West Michigan would be at an elevated risk of power outages. Power outages would also stretch area-wide.

Stay tuned for further updates on this system as we get closer. Any change in the track or the strength would bring potentially weaker winds or more snow to West Michigan Sunday.

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