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‘Unprecedented’ winter storm hits Southeast Michigan: Here’s what to expect and when

Ice Storm Warning issued for parts of SE Michigan

DETROIT – Unprecedented rain, near record river flooding and crippling ice are all staring us in the face as we head into a stressful Saturday in southeast Michigan.

Rain has already started falling across the area.

Timing

Let’s get into the numbers. Rainfall starts becoming heavy around midnight tonight and continues through the overnight. Temperatures will still be very warm overnight so this will stay as liquid until we get past daybreak.

Then as air temperatures start cooling we’ll see rain turning to freezing rain, mainly in our West and North Zones.

That will continue, with some breaks until the system exits around sunrise on Sunday morning.

Impacts

Rain:

Total rainfall will end up at 2-3 inches in most spots. That will break the record for any day this month.

So in plain terms, we’ve never seen this much rain in January in Detroit. With frozen ground, that much water will cause major flooding in multiple rivers and possibly set record levels. One of those is the River Rouge at Detroit. It is forecasted to rise more than 14 feet in less than 36 hours!

Rivers will hit their highest point early Sunday morning. We’re also expecting road flooding, especially highway underpasses, and low-lying areas. Basement flooding is likely as well.

Rainfall totals.
Rainfall totals. (WDIV)

Ice:

Ice accumulation will range between 0.25” and 0.50” north of I-696 with the highest numbers near the I-69 corridor.

This will lead to widespread power outages by the second half of Saturday into Sunday morning.

Parts of the Metro and South Zones will get 0.1”-0.2”. That will lead to icy roads and sidewalks.

Ice totals.
Ice totals. (WDIV)

Wind:

Wind will make impacts from the ice and flooding even worse. Starting on the east side, onshore winds will push high lake levels back into yards and homes. And with gusts up to 40 mph at the end of the event, any ice-coated power-lines and tree branches will be vulnerable.

So expect much of the damage to happen at the very end of the storm.

We’ll be tracking this storm through the entire weekend here on ClickOnDetroit, Local 4 and the Local 4Casters app.


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