December 7, 2021

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Freezing rain expected: Update on ice and snow accumulation, temps may not warm –

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The weather system is heading into southern Michigan as of noon today. Here’s a look at how much ice and snow should accumulate. Also, previously it looked as if temperatures could warm above freezing across southern Lower Michigan. Now it looks like temperatures might be stubbornly cold.

Below is the radar forecast. The precipitation will become widespread across the southern half of Lower Michigan this afternoon. The purple shaded area is a forecast of freezing rain. The pink shaded areas could be snow, sleet or freezing rain.

radar forecast

Radar forecast through 4 a.m. Saturday, January 2, 2021. Purple is freezing rain. Pink could be snow, sleet or freezing rain.

The southern third of Lower Michigan will mostly have freezing rain. The northern fringe of the weather will be sleet and snow. This means the southern half of Lower Michigan will have dangerous winter road conditions this afternoon through tonight, and possibly into early Saturday morning.

Below is the total ice accumulation expected by the end of the precipitation at 4 a.m. Saturday.

tot ice accum

Total ice accumulation expected today through 4 a.m. Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Lansing and Jackson areas look to be in the heaviest area of freezing rain, with ice amounts between two-tenths and four-tenths of an inch. All of the major cities from Saginaw and Grand Rapids south to the Ohio and Indiana border could have up to one-tenth of an inch of ice. This includes the Detroit area and Ann Arbor.

This isn’t major ice storm status, but certainly enough for dangerous road conditions and a few large limbs brought down on powerlines.

Flint, Alma and Grand Rapids will have more of a mixture that a pure freezing rain event. Look for snow, sleet and freezing rain. Below is the snowfall forecast from the model I trust most in this situation. Let’s call it a two to five inch snow through central Lower Michigan.

total snow

Total snowfall and sleet accumulation forecast through end of weather system at 4 a.m. Saturday, January 2, 2021

Yesterday there was some hope temperatures would warm up to 34 degrees across the southern half of Lower Michigan, helping melt off ice accumulations. Today everything shows a little colder temperature pattern. Below I’m showing the time when temperatures will be about the warmest. You can see the freezing line stays very south, almost at the Ohio border. The far southeast, Detroit and Ann Arbor, could warm to 33 or 34 degrees late this evening, helping main roads improve. Elsewhere it’s going to stay below freezing. Any road improvements there will have to be accomplished by road salt and Saturday morning’s sunshine.

8pm temps

Temperature forecast at 8 p.m. Friday, January 1, 2021

So the precipitation picks up this afternoon, and ends by 4 a.m. tomorrow. You may need to wait until the sun gets up in the sky Saturday morning, and the salt gets thrown on roads before driving becomes safer.

It may be 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Saturday before the interstates and main highways improve dramatically. But don’t wait until Sunday to drive because the next snow system will be here Sunday. By the way- if you read the linked article about the Sunday snow, it looks like the European has the better idea, based on the newest model runs.

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