Freezing rain expected: update on ice and snow buildup, temperatures may not warm up
The weather system is heading for southern Michigan starting at noon today. Here’s a look at how much ice and snow is expected to accumulate. Additionally, previously it looked like temperatures could warm above freezing in southern Lower Michigan. Now it looks like the temperatures could be stubbornly cold.
Below, the radar forecast. Precipitation will become widespread over the southern half of Lower Michigan this afternoon. The area shaded in purple is a forecast of freezing rain. Areas shaded in pink may be snow, sleet, or freezing rain.
The southern third of Lower Michigan will have mostly freezing rain. The northern fringe of the weather will be sleet and snow. That means the southern half of Lower Michigan will have dangerous winter road conditions this afternoon through tonight, and possibly early Saturday morning.
Below is the total ice buildup forecast by the end of the precipitation at 4 a.m. on Saturday.
The Lansing and Jackson areas appear to be in the most freezing rain area, with ice amounts ranging between two-tenths and four-tenths of an inch. All of the major cities of Saginaw and Grand Rapids south to the Ohio-Indiana border could have up to a tenth of an inch of ice. This includes the Detroit and Ann Arbor area.
This is not a major ice storm condition, but certainly sufficient for dangerous road conditions and a few large limbs falling on power lines.
Flint, Alma and Grand Rapids will have more of a mix than a pure freezing rain event. Look for snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Below is the snowfall forecast of the model I trust the most in this situation. Let’s call it two to five inch snow across central Lower Michigan.
It was hoped yesterday that temperatures would rise to 34 degrees in the southern half of Lower Michigan, helping to melt ice buildups. Today everything shows a slightly cooler temperature pattern. Below I show when the temperatures will be roughly the hottest. You can see the freezer line stays far south, almost to the Ohio border. The extreme southeast, Detroit and Ann Arbor, could heat up to 33 or 34 degrees late this evening, helping major roads improve. Elsewhere, it will stay below zero. Any improvement to the road there will have to be accomplished by road salt and the Saturday morning sun.
Precipitation is therefore increasing this afternoon and ending at 4 a.m. tomorrow. You may have to wait until the sun rises in the sky on Saturday morning and the salt drains onto the roads before driving becomes safer.
It may be 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. on Saturday before the freeways and major highways improve significantly. But don’t wait until Sunday to drive because the next snow system will be there on Sunday. By the way, if you read the related article on Sunday snow, it looks like the European has the best idea, based on the latest racing models.