Wind, rain could impact Thanksgiving travel; power outages possible

Posted at 6:46 PM, Nov 24, 2019

WEST MICHIGAN -- Two powerful fall storms are slated to arrive this week in the Great Lakes. The primary concern with each one is very simply...WIND! These storms have the capability of producing 30 to 40 mph sustained winds (over a two-minute period) with gusts of 50 to 60 mph possible. Both will also pack precipitation.

The first storm will begin affecting Michigan later Tuesday/Tuesday night, and especially Wednesday. See the location/track of this low pressure system below. The image is valid for 6 A.M. Wednesday.  North/northwest winds behind this system Wednesday will drive high waves and erosion along our Lake Michigan shoreline.

As noted, wind is the primary concern. See our forecast model below for forecast wind speeds in miles per hour. The image is valid for 6 P.M. Tuesday. The bigger, whiter numbers are sustained wind speeds. The "G" number represent the gust for that hour, and the arrow...the direction from which the wind comes. At this time, we're beginning to turn breezy and winds are just beginning to ramp up from the east/southeast.

The next image (below) shows forecast wind speeds at midnight on Tuesday night. Note they're getting stronger. Gusting already at 30 to 35 mph.

The image below is valid for 6 A.M. Wednesday. As the low gets closer, the winds get stronger.

Another image below is valid for noon on Wednesday. Places like Benton Harbor may be seeing 30 to 35 mph sustained winds with gusts around 40 or greater.

The last image is valid for 6 P.M. Wednesday. This is the GFS Forecast Model. Note the gusts of 55 in Benton Harbor, 51 in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, and 50 in Holland. By this time, winds will have switched from the southwest to the northwest. That means the most significant beach erosion with 12 to 15 foot waves will be possible from Holland southward. Power outages are also possible from this event. I would expect either WIND ADVISORIES or HIGH WIND WARNINGS to be issued by the National Weather Service.

How much rain is expected? Since we'll be on the front side of this system, that's the warm side. That means almost all of the precipitation will be liquid (or rain). We may see a brief changeover or mix to a few snow showers later Wednesday as the temperatures fall, but no significant accumulations are expected.

If one storm wasn't enough this week, a second similar powerful storm is expected to arrive later Friday into next Saturday. That means we'll actually have quiet conditions for Thanksgiving and Black Friday PRIOR to the arrival of the weekend storm. See image below for the location of the low and track of the second storm this weekend. This one will also pack powerful winds.

While a majority of this system may produce rain, it's also likely to wrap colder air in to mix with snow at times. Behind the system later Saturday and Sunday, we're expected to wrap in enough cold air to perhaps generate accumulating snow showers.

Again, it's all about very strong, powerful winds with both of these systems. Construction workers will need to secure outdoor equipment and partially built structures. Lakeshore residents should plan on stabilizing the beach/bluff/dune in any way they can to limit erosion. Inland residents should secure garbage cans, patio furniture, and any thing else that may be moved outside by high winds.

Please be safe. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at