Metro Detroit weather: Tracking potential for major flooding this weekend

Metro Detroit weather forecast for Jan. 8, 2020
Metro Detroit weather forecast for Jan. 8, 2020

DETROIT – We're getting more concerned about our weekend storm. The potential for major flooding in addition to even more problems is top of mind.

We’ve seen enough consistency in the long range models to have high confidence in 2-3 inches of rain. Even though it may seem like we’re dodging a bullet ... that would be over two feet of snow ... having this much rain fall this time of year will be even worse than dealing with it in the summer.

Just from the rain alone, flooding will be the chief concern this weekend:

  • Flooding of streets and underpasses will lead to road closures across the area.
  • Basement flooding is a high likelihood with soil temperatures near or below freezing. That means water won’t be able to runoff as quickly (or at all)
  • Rivers and streams that are prone to flooding will likely see water over their banks
  • Lakeshore flooding is likely, moreso from the northeast winds than the rain itself

Timing the Storm

Rain will begin falling Thursday evening. It will be relatively light and scattered until the daylight hours on Friday. We can expect all-day rain Friday at a light to moderate intensity. As a cold front approaches Saturday, rain will continue and intensify, coming down heavy at multiple points during the day. That will continue through daybreak on Sunday, when the storm will finally lift to our northeast.

More Than Rain

Right now, we’re banking on most if not all of this to fall as rain. There is still a possibility of freezing rain, mainly in our West and North Zones. Obviously with this much liquid, there could be significant amounts of ice accumulation. Please be prepared for this, although it’s still too early to tell when or if it will occur.

Snow’s Slim Shot

Temperatures will be dropping thorugh the day on Saturday, after hitting 50 degrees on Friday. But most of the system should be gone by the time we see deep enough cold air to change the rain to snow. We may get an inch or so on the tail end. But of all the contingencies in this forecast, snow will be the least of our problems.

We’re now less than 36 hours from the start of this system. Obviously, changes in the forecast are possible. But the significant impacts from this much rain in January deserve respect and close monitoring. Stay with us here at ClickOnDetroit, Local 4 and our Local 4Casters app as we get you through the storm.

About the Author:

Ben loves his job at Local 4 because broadcast meteorology challenges him to crack Mother Nature’s code, then find new and creative ways to tell that story to people.