WEST MICHIGAN — The first week of January brought quiet weather and overall mild temperatures to West Michigan. Expect things to get a bit more active heading into this coming weekend. Many details are still to be ironed out, but a potent storm system is likely to bring significant rain and wind followed by ice and/or snow which could accumulate.
A slowly strengthening baroclinic zone (area of an increasing temperature gradient, where cold air meets warm air ) over the east-central United States and a shift in winds to the southwest aloft will bring a more moist flow allowing for periods of drizzle and light rain to get going starting late morning/early afternoon Thursday.
Thursday will not be a washout but will be damp at times through the afternoon and evening as temperatures move back into the lower 40s by day's end on very brisk southerly winds that can gust to near 40 mph at times. Expect a wet Friday with periods of drizzle and light rain once again.
The coverage and intensity of rain on Friday will likely not be great but perhaps a bit more so than on Thursday. Another mild one is anticipated with highs in the middle 40s. It is later Friday evening into Saturday morning when a strengthening area of low pressure lifts northward along this aforementioned temperature gradient.
Rainfall will likely become heavier and more widespread during this time frame. Rain amounts from Thursday all the way through Saturday afternoon will likely be quite significant with common tallies of 1.50"-2.00"+ of water looking to be a good possibility.
Where exactly the strongest thermal contrast zone/temperature gradient sets up remains to be seen and therefore the ultimate track of low pressure is still in doubt. This leaves the door open to how much rain versus ice/snow we may receive across West Michigan. If the system takes a more northerly/westerly track, we will have a mainly rain event with a brief switch to ice/snow. If the system takes a more southerly/easterly track we will see a quicker changeover to ice/snow and thus greater winter weather impacts.
Stay tuned over the next couple days as information becomes more aligned and we get a better handle on the storm track and potential rain/ice/snow amounts.