39ºF

Bitter cold knocks on the door in SE Michigan

Dangerous conditions to develop this weekend

DETROIT – Most of you know by now that I do not hype the weather.

I tell it to you the way it is, and provide you the information you need with as much detail as possible to help you plan and prepare. Put simply, the drastic changes coming our way this weekend will be very hazardous if you are not prepared. Nothing you will read below is exaggeration or hyperbole -- it's going to become this nasty. You will consciously notice the changing weather on Saturday, and will be talking about it with friends and family.

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Compared to what's headed our way, tonight's weather looks comparatively benign. We'll see periodic snow, with temperatures holding steady near 20°, or perhaps even rising a few degrees before a cold front starts dropping temperatures into the teens by dawn. Wind overall tonight should be from the southwest at 10 to 15 mph, ahead of the Arctic cold front barreling our way.

Periodic snow and snow showers continue through Saturday morning. I think we'll see an average of 1.5-to-2 inches of accumulation, and there could be slightly more north of I-69. Wind will increase through the day and, by afternoon, will blow from the northwest at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts well above that. Coincident with the increasing wind will be sharply falling temperatures. We'll start the day in the teens, and fall into the single numbers by late afternoon. That combined with the wind will drop wind chills into the teens below zero midday, and down to -20° to -25° by late afternoon.

Consequently, the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Watch for Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning. If these temps appear certain to verify, then I'm pretty confident that they will upgrade this watch to a warning tomorrow.

One other thing to take note of if you'll be traveling: very intense lake effect snow bands should develop on the southeastern shores of Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. True whiteout conditions are likely, so use a lot of extra caution and make sure that your car is stocked with blankets, very warm clothing and food in case you get stranded. Most of those snow bands should stay just offshore of the Huron, Sanilac, and St. Clair County shorelines, but it would take only the slightest shift northward of the forecasted wind direction to bring those bands ashore -- so be aware of this possibility.

Windy and dangerously cold Saturday night. Wind chills will range from -25° to -35° -- frostbite can set in on exposed skin in fifteen minutes or less in these temperatures. Actual temperatures on the thermometer should approach -9°, which would challenge our record low for Sunday.

Sunday itself will be mostly sunny, but still extremely cold, with highs barely squeaking above zero…challenging the record for lowest high temperature for Sunday. Fortunately, wind should lighten up during the day.

Mostly clear and bitterly cold once again Sunday night, with lows again near -9° -- and potentially several degrees colder in our farther west and north suburban areas. Once again, we could set a record low for the day on Monday.

Increasing clouds on Monday, with highs near 10°.

Mostly cloudy Monday night, with lows in the single numbers Monday evening, then rising into the low teens by Tuesday morning.

We'll see some light snow on Tuesday, but it doesn't look like much. Highs in the mid 20s, although increasing wind during the day will drop our wind chills.

Mostly cloudy Tuesday night, with lows between zero and -5°.

Light snow showers are possible on Wednesday, with highs in the upper single numbers.

Partly cloudy Wednesday night, with lows between zero and -5°.

Partly cloudy on Thursday, with highs around 10°.

Partly cloudy on Friday, with highs back up near 20°.


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