Significant winter storm hits Michigan this weekend: What to expect

Major ice, flooding concerns around state

NOAA Precipitation map for Jan. 11, 2020. (WDIV)

A dangerous winter storm will hit Michigan this weekend, bringing potentially catastrophic levels of ice, along with flooding rains and snow, depending on where you live in the state.

Regardless of where you live, the storm will begin Friday evening and last through Sunday morning. Here’s a look at what to expect around the state.

Metro Detroit

Here’s the latest from the Local 4Casters:

Rain becomes heavy on Saturday with thunderstorms possible, but a potent cold front crossing the area during the morning will drop temperatures from those 50s to or a little below freezing generally north of I-696. The farther north you are, especially north of M-59, the quicker the resulting changeover to freezing rain, and the heavier your ice accumulation will be.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect Saturday through Sunday morning for these areas, as ice thicknesses could be near one-half inch, which would be a crippling ice storm. Regardless of the timing of your change to ice, 2-to-3 inches of rain is likely, with widespread flood concerns across our area. If you have a basement and live in a flood prone area, you should strongly consider moving important items in your basement either to a higher floor, or onto tables.

Read: 4 things to do before heavy rain arrives

A Flood Watch is in effect for all of Metro Detroit through Sunday morning, as well as Lakeshore Flood Advisories and Watches:

NWS Lakeshore Flooding. (WDIV)

Rain continues into Saturday night, with some areas receiving freezing rain possibly changing back to a period of rain but, by that point, the damage will be done. Even if you don’t get ice, keep in mind that temperatures will drop into the mid 20s (-4 degrees Celsius) by Sunday morning, so areas of water will freeze into ice.

Some of us, particularly to the north, could start Sunday with some snow, but that will quickly come to an end.

Here is the forecast for the winter storm.

Read more here.

West and Mid-Michigan

NWS: A major winter storm is expected to start tonight and last through daybreak Sunday. Significant accumulations of snow, sleet, ice, and rain are expected with power outages and dangerous travel conditions.

Flooding is also possible (mainly across far southern Michigan).

NWS Grand Rapids storm map. (WDIV)

Much of the area will experience impactful freezing rain on Saturday, and the highest risk for significant ice accumulations in excess of one half inch looks to be in a corridor from Hastings to Lansing to Flint.

NWS Ice Map. (Grand Rapids) (WDIV)

Northern Lower Michigan

NWS: A significant winter storm is set to impact the region Saturday into Sunday with heavy snowfall and gusty winds.

This combination will lead to dangerous travel conditions on Saturday night as whiteout conditions may develop. Freezing rain is also possible across southeastern portions of the forecast area.

NWS Gaylord snow map. (WDIV)

Lakeshore Flooding risks:

Lakeshore flooding. (NWS Gaylord) (WDIV)

Upper Peninsula

NWS: Drier conditions expected today across the UP with light lake-effect snow developing late across the west. Winds become north and then northeast tomorrow with light lake-effect continuing.

Attention then turns to Saturday night as a developing system passes through Lower Michigan. Snowfall with this system will be highly dependent on the system’s track. If this system tracks further to the north, snow accumulations will increase…if the system tracks further to the south, the UP could end up with only a few inches at best.

NWS Marquette snow map. (WDIV)

Track the latest

You can monitor every aspect of this weekend’s changing weather -- wind, temperature, and precipitation type -- on the FREE Local4Casters Weather App. If you ever needed the nation’s best weather app, this is the weekend to make sure it’s downloaded onto your phone. Just search the app store under WDIV -- it’s right there.


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.