Weekend winter system to deliver rain, snow, and wind

Accumulating Snow is Likely for Some
Posted at 5:17 AM, Dec 08, 2020

WEST MICHIGAN - We've been a little slow this season, thus far for accumulating snow here in West Michigan. In fact, we're running about four inches below normal at this point. That may change as we move into and through this upcoming weekend. A big low pressure system tracking into the Great Lakes out of the Central Plains on Friday and Saturday will likely start as rain on Friday, then transition to snow as colder air wraps into the the system on Saturday. This system will also bring gusty winds and eventually colder temperatures.

Take a look at the first model image (below) valid for 6 P.M. on Friday. Rain will already be spreading into the area with high temperatures in the upper 40s.

The next image (below) is valid for 6 A.M. on Saturday and shows the position of the low (or storm system) still well to our southwest and perhaps a rain/snow mix or a changeover to snow beginning to occur from Grand Rapids northward.

By 6 P.M. on Saturday, we expect enough cold air will have wrapped into this system to change almost everything over to accumulating snow from Grand Rapids north and west. We expect the heaviest snow totals to be in these areas that see an early changeover and snow the longest. See image below.

Our final image below (valid for 6 A.M. Sunday) shows snow occurring across the entire area. Note the storm system itself has moved to our east and winds have now shifted to the north.

The exact track of this system will be critical in determining how much snow will fall and in what areas. The low has actually been trending and tracking further south and east, which would yield more snow for our area with a quicker changeover and a longer duration of accumulating snow. If the system tracks further north and west, it would likely wrap more warmer into the state and yield more rain and less snow. So make sure to stay up on later forecasts!

Our European forecast model output is showing a swath of about 3" to 6" possible from Grand Rapids northward, with only an inch or two across our southern counties. See image below.

Our GFS or Global forecast system model output is showing a little less snow (probably on the order of about 2" to 4") with warmer air and more liquid precipitation (see below). It's still a ways out and the track will likely wobble one way or another, so make sure to stay up on later forecasts.

While we've already had a few minor bouts of widespread snowfall, but this will likely be the first widespread heavier snow event this season. As they say, the first one seems to be the hardest as we acclimate ourselves with winter driving, stopping distance, and assess the quality of our tires! This system will also deliver some breezy to windy conditions as it approaches and departs the region. While I would expect accumulating snow, I also anticipate milder temperatures are ahead as we draw closer to Christmas, so the snow may not stick around long. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at