Major winter storm hits Michigan
Tue, 22 Mar 2011 00:23:35 GMT —
UPDATE: Kevin Usealman - 9:35am - While it may seem like the storm is over for some at the moment, it is not. Spurts of snow, sleet and even freezing rain will continue to move through the area late this morning and early this afternoon. The mix will be generally Saginaw southward, where 1/4" of ice accumulation (or more in spots) is likely through 3pm. North of Saginaw will continue to see primarily dense snow with pellets or sleet mixed in. Intensity of snow and icy mix will pick back up late this morning. The mix will change to snow for everyone late this aftenroon as temperatures continue to fall. The snow will diminish to snow showers late tonight. Storm totals Saginaw north will be in the 8-12" range by the time things area done, with some locally higher amounts possible (some areas have already seen 8" or more) from this long duration storm. Southern areas (near Flint) could see another 1-3" after the change back, bringing totals into the 4-8" range plus the ice. Regardless of what type of precipitation you see, road conditions today will likely get worse in many cases and not better due to falling temperatures. Stay updated on the closings for today, tonight and even tomorrow on our closings/delays page. Power outages continue to be possible both from ice accumulation and heavy wet snow as well as wind gusts over 45 MPH near Lake Huron.
UPDATE: 8:48 a.m. - The storm caused schools across Mid-Michigan to close Wednesday. We want to know how hard you were hit. Let us know on the NBC25 Facebook page, and be sure to send us your photos too!
UPDATE: Mark Torregrossa 11:45pm - The storm is a strong one! As I look at the radar right now, the snow and mess stretches from Michigan to Montana. That's a big storm. My tweak to the forecast has been to up the snow amounts by a few inches. Most of the area now looks like it will get 6 to 10 inches, but see the attached map which I have just updated. We have reports of lightning and thunder. When that happens during snow, it means snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour. Remember, it's a heavy, wet snow so don't overexert yourself. Stay tuned for more updates.
UPDATE: Mark Torregrossa 6:30pm - There is some good news and some bad news in this update. I'll give you the good first! It looks like the true ice storm conditions will be limited to a small part of our area, which is the far southern area. Look at the new updated graphic I made to show you the different weather zones. And the ice storm area in total will be just about 25 miles from north to south. Now, that means snow is definitely on the way. I'll work my way through this mess from the south. Along the I-69 corridor we expect a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. This area will have 2 to 4 inches of snow combined with up to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation. This is the area most likely to have scattered power outages. Next, just to the north in Saginaw, Gratiot, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties, the precipitation should mostly be in the form of snow. There could be occasional sleet and freezing rain mixed in. The next step north takes us to the area with the most snow. Midland, Bay City, Huron County and points northward in our viewing area will see anywhere from 6 to 9 inches of WET snow. Continuing north out of our viewing area toward the bridge, the snow will taper down to 2 to 4 inches, and not accumulate in the U.P. If you have a flight from Detroit Metro tomorrow, there may be delays, but temperatures should climb a few degrees above freezing. So if you get to Metro Airport, your flight may make it out most likely. In other words, you might want to get on the road now and stay in Detroit overnight. Do this as soon as you can as the roads are only going to get worse late this evening.
UPDATE: Kevin Usealman 6:06am - There are already thunderstorms in western Wisconsin. Because of this I do believe thunder is a possibility for some of us tonight as the warm front will sit right over mid-Michigan. This makes ice storm conditions look more likely for at least a portion of our area, although where exactly that area of ice accumulation over .5" sets up is iffy at best. Right now it looks to be from Lapeer and northern St. Clair counties northwest through southern Tuscola, northern Genesee and most of Saginaw county, then furthern northwest to Gratiot and southern Isabella and Midland counties. There will be snow and sleet accumulation on top of ice in these areas as well, possibly several inches the furthern north you go, with the changover happening Wednesday morning. Areas in this zone that see a thunderstorm tonight, though, could even see isolated areas of 1" of ice before that happens. This will result in power outages and likely some downed limbs. North of the ice storm zone heavy snow of 6" or more (some areas a foot toward Houghton Lake) still looks on track. South of the ice storm zone there will still be problems, especially in the morning hours, before this transitions exclusively to rain later in the morning.
UPDATE: Mark Torregrossa 11:06pm - I've just looked at the new run of weather data, and it's getting very consistent. 1/2 inch to 1 inch of liquid total out of this storm. In the snow areas that's a heavy wet five inches or more. In the ice zone that's a significant ice, and in the far south it's a mixed up mess. The start time is a little later at 4pm south to 8pm far north. If you are driving to Detroit Tuesday evening it should be mostly rain there. Stay tuned as Kevin and I will keep you updated.
I hope you've been listening to me, and haven't put the snow shovel away yet. And with this storm you may need to dig out the ice pick in parts of our area. A major winter storm has its sights on Mid-Michigan. Right now it looks like the precipitation will start late in the afternoon on Tuesday, sometime between 3 and 6 pm. It could start as rain if temperatures are above the freezing mark as I expect. After sunset the temperature will drop a few degrees, and some spots will drop below freezing. That's when the problems come in, as freezing rain will develop. The exact temperatures will be the most important aspect of this storm, so please check in often with us as we watch the storm approach.Read more Check for flight delays
The northern sections, from Gladwin northward, should mostly have snow. I think five inches or more are possible by Wednesday night.
In the Tri-Cities and northern Thumb a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain is likely Tuesday night changing to all snow during the day on Wednesday. A twenty five mile wide strip stretching from west to east could have an ice accumulation of 1/2 inch to 1 inch. That's enough ice to bring down limbs onto powerlines and cause power outages, so have the generator ready!
Finally, south along the I-69 corridor it will be a mess too. A complete mixture is possible along I-69. I'm thinking everything but the kitchen sink will fall from the sky. So look for sleet, freezing rain, and rain changing to all snow in the afternoon on Wednesday. Because of the mixture, amounts of each individual precipitation type will be lower. It will be like a "weather stew" with a bunch of stuff all thrown together. You know how filling stew is, though!
Our computer models show that below freezing air will invade everywhere by Wednesday afternoon, and possibly stay until monday! That means any ice accumulation may not go away real quickly.
My advice for you is to travel before 6pm Tuesday or wait until Thursday mid-day. Another piece of advice is to stay tuned to NBC25 newscasts, follow our updates online, and like us on facebook to get updates on the storm. We'll be fine tuning the graphic as the storm progresses.