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Temps to plummet, lake-effect snow develops heading into Christmas

Unseasonably mild Wednesday, then cold with snow showers
Posted at 12:40 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 06:40:26-05

WEST MICHIGAN — WEST MICHIGAN -- After a rather benign weather pattern with temperatures running somewhat above average, things are about to get more interesting as we head towards Christmas Day Friday. This interesting weather could impact you if you're going to be on the roadways for the holiday.

A warm front will approach the area this Wednesday morning, then clear the area to the north this afternoon. This will bring unseasonably warm temperatures in the lower 50s, which is about 15 to 20 degrees above average for this time of year.

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As the above image shows, we will be dealing with some rain showers by Wednesday evening in the warm sector of this system before the cold front moves through. Up to a third of an inch of rain is possible.

Winds will also be quite gusty out of the south on Wednesday on the warm side of this weather system.

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Wind gusts of 40 to 45 mph are likely, which will lead to a very blustery type of late December day.

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A Winter Weather Advisory goes into place from 4 A.M. Christmas Eve until 7 P.M. Christmas Day for Kent, Newaygo, Barry, and Kalamazoo counties, plus all of our counties along the lakeshore from Van Buren northward. There is also a Winter Storm Watch in effect for Berrien and Cass counties from Christmas Eve afternoon through Christmas Day.

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As the low pressure system moves east Wednesday night, a cold front will surge through West Michigan. Midnight highs will be in the upper 30s to lower 40s on Christmas Eve morning, but temperatures will fall into the lower to mid 20s by sunrise. Some lake effect snow showers will also begin to develop.

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Snow totals are expected to be in the 1-2" range in most areas around and west of US Hwy 131 by Christmas morning, with some isolated higher totals possible in favored lake effect areas that receive higher amounts of snow with a west to northwest wind.

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And speaking of wind, we will experience plummeting wind chills as the front rolls through. Here is a look at forecast wind chills as the front pushes through just after midnight early Thursday morning.

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And as we head towards midday on Thursday, wind chills could drop into the single digits.

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Winds won't be as strong Thursday as what we experience Wednesday, but they will be coming from a colder direction. Expect west winds at 10-20 mph, gusting to around 30 mph.

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Lake effect snow showers will continue into Christmas Day. Look out for locally slick, snow-covered roads accompanied by low visibility.

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Snow totals will continue to add up by Saturday morning. Favored areas across southern Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren, Berrien, Cass, and perhaps western Kalamazoo counties will have the chance to pick up several inches of snow. As is always the case, lake-effect can be very localized where the heaviest snow occurs and will be determined by the exact wind trajectories that set up. Stay tuned to FOX 17 over the next couple of days for fine tuning of where the heaviest snow will likely fall.