Metro Detroit weather: Windy with scattered showers before potent cold front arrives

Chance of thunderstorm before cold front


DETROIT – Get ready for some serious weather whiplash this evening as a potent cold front barrels through the area. Here are the four aspects to this evening’s forecast that you need to be aware of, in order of occurrence.

Rain: Scattered showers, and possibly even a thunderstorm will precede the cold front. Once the front crosses the area (by 10 p.m.), the rain will end.

Wind: The wind aloft is quite strong. In fact, by early evening, computer model forecast soundings suggest that, just one-third of a mile above the surface, the wind will be blowing at 55 to 60 mph. So, any shower immediately ahead of the front could have very gusty winds.

Behind the cold front, widespread wind gusts of 40 to 45 mph are possible. For this reason, the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for the entire area from 7 p.m. this evening until 10 a.m. Friday.


Temperature: This is the crazy part of the forecast. If you are heading out in the early evening, it may very well feel like spring out there, but you’d better grab a heavy jacket if you’ll be out more than two to three hours. Temperatures may actually rise to near or a little above 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) but, once the front cross the area, those temps will immediately crash from west to east.

We’ll literally drop from 50 to below freezing in four-to-five hours. Here is a series of maps showing you how dramatic that temp drop will be.

Keep in mind that, because temps will change (both up and down) so quickly this evening, this timing may be slightly off -- but this paints a very good portrait of what will transpire. You’d better be prepared for this if you’ll be out this evening.


The Freeze: As you can see on the last temperature map above, we will plummet all the way down to near 20 degrees (-7 degrees Celsius) by dawn. So standing water will very quickly freeze overnight --watch out for ice if you’ll be out late tonight. Let’s hope that the windy conditions evaporates at least some of that standing water.

Friday will be a mostly cloudy, windy and very cold day. Some Lake Michigan lake effect snow bands may extend eastward into our area (especially in the morning), and any stationary band could drop a dusting of snow. Temperatures will remain nearly steady, with wind chills approaching zero (-18 degrees Celsius). West winds will continue at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to near 40 mph during the morning.

Friday’s sunrise is at 7:39 a.m., and Friday’s sunset is at 5:57 p.m.

Gradual clearing Friday night, with lows around 8 degrees (-13 degrees Celsius).

Mostly sunny on Saturday -- a great day to head down to Winter Blast. Highs in the mid-20s (-4 degrees Celsius).

Mostly clear to partly cloudy Saturday night, with lows in the mid-teens (-9 degrees Celsius).

Becoming cloudy on Sunday with light snow developing during the afternoon. At this point, it appears that we’ll pick up an inch or possibly one-to-two inches of snow through Sunday night. Highs in the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius).

Mostly cloudy on Monday, with highs in the low 30s (0 degrees Celsius).

Another storm approaches on Tuesday, and the computer models have been all over the board with this storm. Yesterday they spun up a stronger storm, which prompted a more northeastward track -- and gave us a wintry mix to rain scenario.

Today’s models are now suggesting a much weaker system -- this takes it on a farther south path that keeps us cooler, and promotes a wintry mix or snow scenario. All we can say at this point is to stay tuned -- we’ll keep you updated as we develop better confidence.

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