Metro Detroit weather: 4 to 8 inches of snow expected

Winter storm on the way this weekend

Friday, Jan. 17 weather forecast
Friday, Jan. 17 weather forecast

DETROIT – Everything remains on track for a significant winter storm hitting the area tonight. This morning’s new computer models are in agreement with the overnight models, so confidence is high in the expected scenario playing out the way we see it.

This afternoon, however, will be a relatively nice winter day, with sunshine followed by increasing high and mid-level clouds, and highs near 30 degrees (that’s -1 degree Celsius for our Canadian friends across the river). Light and variable wind means that there won’t be much wind chill, either!

Today’s sunrise is at 7:59 a.m., and today’s sunset is at 5:28 p.m.

What to expect Saturday morning

Conditions remain dry for our Friday evening plans including if you’re heading to the Red Wings game against the Penguins at LCA, but snow arrives around or after midnight, and becomes heavy overnight.

When you wake up Saturday morning, big snowflakes will be coming down! It’ll be beautiful, unless you have to get out and drive in that stuff. During the morning, it’s possible that some sleet could mix in across the southern part of our area but, for most of us, it’ll be mostly snow. By afternoon, the snow will change to some light rain, as temperatures rise to near 40 degrees (4 to 5 degrees Celsius). It will become very windy during the afternoon, with gusts over 40 mph possible.

As for snow accumulations, it appears that the range across southeast Michigan will be 4 to 8 inches, but keep in mind that the amount that falls will not be the amount you see at the end of the afternoon due to compaction and melting from the rain and above freezing temperatures. Here are some key points to remember:

1. You’ll want to try and get this snow removed by late Saturday afternoon or early evening, as temperatures Saturday night will drop well below freezing, turning this snow into a solid lump of crust. You won’t be able to shovel this stuff on Sunday (or Monday, or Tuesday) if you wait. Get it done Saturday.

2. This will be a “heart attack” snow -- a heavy snow that’s tough to shovel. At first, it’ll be a fluffy snow…it’ll be much easier to shovel this in stages as it falls. However, the above freezing temperatures and rain Saturday afternoon will increase the snow’s weight. Do not try to remove this yourself if you are elderly or have health problems. Pay a kid down the street $15 or $20 to do it for you…you’ll be glad you did. At the very minimum, get out there multiple times as it falls to shovel so you have less to push.

3. I’m concerned about the potential wind gusts Saturday afternoon…those winds could bring down some tree limbs, and especially those potentially weakened in areas that got freezing rain last weekend. Power outages are possible, so be prepared just in case.

The National Weather Service continues a Winter Storm Warning for Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Monroe counties from midnight to noon Saturday, and a Winter Weather Advisory for St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee and Sanilac counties.

Snow showers are possible Saturday night, into Sunday, but I’m not expecting meaningful accumulation. Lows Saturday night in the mid 20s (-4 degrees Celsius), with temperatures holding steady at that number through the day on Sunday.

Like last weekend, this is a great storm to monitor on our free Local4Casters weather app. At the click of a button you can see temps, wind, precipitation, future radar (showing you the precipitation’s projected movement over the next several hours), road conditions, lightning, and even earthquakes if you need a change of pace. Just search “WDIV” in the app store…it’s right there and easy to download.

About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.