Updated: Jan 10, 2020
A Strong Low Pressure system is organizing in the vicinity of Texas and Oklahoma as of early this afternoon Friday, January 10th. It will turn northeast toward the Great Lakes and pass just southeast of Lower Michigan Saturday Night. It will advect copious amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and collide with cold air from the north, resulting in a significant winter storm for Lower Michigan. Heavy rainfall, flooding, freezing rain, sleet, and snow are all expected depending on your location. The following will detail the timing and impacts by location:
Lansing area Timing and Forecast:
This location has the highest potential to see significant icing, as well as the potential for flooding. Rain will move in late this evening and continue overnight. The rain will be heavy at times and at least 1-2" of rain is likely by sunrise Saturday. Temperatures will be in the 40s most of the night, dropping to about 35 degrees by 9am or 10am. This means all rain up until mid-morning. By late morning, freezing rain and sleet will begin mixing in, continuing as primarily freezing rain during the afternoon. Freezing rain will accumulate on trees and power lines, resulting in tree damage and power outages. Ice accumulations between 0.25" and 0.75" appear possible, if not likely. Winds will gust 35 to 45 MPH, possibly allowing power outages to become more widespread.
There is a risk to this forecast, though, as conditions have to be just right for prolonged freezing rain and icing to occur. If the cold layer about 2 thousand feet above the ground is too deep, we will see more sleet than freezing rain. Roads would still be treacherous, but the ice would not be as significant. Additionally, whether the temperature is 31 or 33 makes all the difference as to whether the rain freezes on contact with trees and power lines or not. These are the factors that have to be watched closely, which could make the situation not as bad. There may also be brief lulls in the precipitation during the day Saturday. Still, with an 8-12 hour period of freezing rain and sleet expected, even the low end of the forecast at 0.25" of ice would still be rather significant. On the other hand, should conditions come together just right, localized areas could exceed 0.75". The greatest icing looks to be roughly along and just north of the I-96 and I-69 corridors. Jackson may see majority cold rain since they are further south, but that 1 to 2 degree temperature difference is critical. It is a good idea to stay off the roads on Saturday and plan for potentially lengthy power outages.
Mt. Pleasant area Timing and Forecast:
This location will see pretty much everything, but when it's all said and done on Sunday, the majority of the precipitation will be snow, especially north of M-20. This doesn't mean you're out of the woods for ice, though. Rain will develop late this evening and continue overnight. The rain may be heavy at times. As temperatures fall to around 30 by sunrise Saturday, sleet and freezing rain will mix in early in the morning. Freezing rain and sleet will dominate the morning, with a marginal temperature difference being important. Icing of 0.1" to 0.25" will be possible before snow and sleet take over for the afternoon. By Saturday night, snow, with areas of blowing snow, are expected with accumulations by Sunday morning of 5 to 9 inches. Higher amounts will be possible, especially north of US-10. The following maps represent forecast snow and ice between late this evening and Sunday morning:
Winter Storm Warnings are in place for this event from 1AM Saturday until 10AM Sunday, issued by the National Weather Service. If trends for significant ice continue, I would not be surprised to see Ice Storm Warnings be issued tonight for areas where the highest ice accumulations are forecast. Stay tuned to my social media pages for additional updates and finish preparing for the potential for lengthy power outages. Try to move or trim trees or other things that could be damaged by ice and wind or could damage property by falling on roofs, power lines or other objects.
Below is a summary of the forecast and impacts, including, but not limited to, area wide:
Breaking down individual cities based on forecast above:
Clare: Ice: 0.05 - 0.20"; Snow: 6 - 9"+
Mt. Pleasant: Ice: 0.1 - 0.3"; Snow 5 - 9"
Bay City: Ice: 0.1 - 0.3"; Snow: 4 - 6"
Grand Rapids: Ice: 0.25 - 0.50"; Snow: 2 - 4"
Alma: Ice: 0.1 - 0.4"; Snow: 3 - 5"
Lansing: Ice: 0.50 - 0.75"; Snow: 1 - 3"
Jackson: 0.05 - 0.25"; Snow: 1 - 2"
Additional forecast details:
Tonight...A chance of rain showers in the evening, then rain overnight. The rain may be heavy at times. Low: 35. SE winds 5 to 15 MPH becoming NE 10 to 20 MPH overnight. Chance of rain 100%.
Saturday...Rain, possibly mixed with freezing rain and sleet until midday, then freezing rain, possibly mixed with sleet in the afternoon. Sleet accumulation an inch or less. Ice accumulation between 0.25" and 0.75". High: 36 at 8am, falling during the day. NE winds 15 to 25 MPH increasing to 20 to 30 MPH in the afternoon. Gusts up to 40 MPH. Chance of precipitation 90%.
Saturday Night...Freezing rain, possibly mixed with sleet in the evening, then snow showers likely overnight. Ice accumulation less than 0.1". Snow accumulation 1 to 2 inches. Low: 14. NE winds 10 to 20 MPH becoming NW overnight. Gusts up to 35 MPH. Chance of precipitation 70%. Wind Chill Readings as low as -1.
Sunday...Mostly Cloudy. A 40% chance of snow showers until midday. High: 23.
Tonight…A chance of rain in the evening, then rain, possibly mixed with freezing rain and sleet overnight. The rain may be heavy at times. Sleet accumulation an inch or less. Ice accumulation of less than 0.1”. Low: 30. E winds 5 to 15 MPH becoming NE 10 to 20 MPH with gusts to around 30 MPH overnight. Chance of precipitation 100%.
Saturday…Freezing rain and sleet until midday, the sleet, possibly mixed with snow in the afternoon. Ice accumulation of 0.1”-0.25” possible. Snow and sleet accumulation 1 to 3 inches. NE winds 15 to 25 MPH increasing to 20 to 30 MPH in the afternoon. Gusts up to 40 MPH. Chance of precipitation 90%.
Saturday Night…Snow and sleet in the evening, then snow overnight. Areas of blowing snow. Snow and sleet accumulation 4 to 7 inches. Low: 11. NE winds 10 to 20 MPH becoming NW overnight. Gusts up to 35 MPH. Chance of precipitation 90%. Wind Chill Readings as low as -4.
Sunday…Mostly Cloudy. A 40% chance of snow showers until midday. High: 19.
Continue to stay up to date with the latest forecast tonight and tomorrow. I will continue to have frequent updates on social media. Please prepare and stay safe as this storm moves through.