Metro Detroit weather: Northern Lights and weekend storm update

Rainy day expected Saturday in most of Metro Detroit

DETROIT – It appears that the Northern Lights didn’t get this far south Wednesday night.

Earth’s magnetic field received the sudden impulse of accelerated charged particles from the sun at around 10 p.m., but the Planetary K Index, which scientists use to assess the disruption to our magnetic field and was forecast to be a 7 on the 0-to-9 scale, only ended up being a 4.

Translation: There wasn’t enough “oomph” to push that ring of Northern Lights down to southern Michigan.

We have a second chance Thursday evening from roughly 10 p.m. through 1 a.m. Friday, but the K Index is only forecasted to be a 6, so chances are slimmer. However the thing to remember is that the Wednesday night forecast was off and, if tonight’s K Index forecast also is off -- but in the other direction -- then we have a chance.

So if you’re out late this evening, face north and, if you see a greenish or grayish abnormal glow to the sky, then maybe you’re seeing the northern lights!

We have a second chance Thursday evening from roughly 10 p.m. through 1 a.m. Friday, but the K Index is only forecasted to be a 6, so chances are slimmer.

Weather forecast

As for our weather, some of us are starting the day with dense fog which, combined with below freezing temperatures, can create icing on roads -- mostly bridges and overpasses. As such, the National Weather Service has issued a Freezing Fog Advisory until 10 a.m. for Genesee, Oakland, Wayne, Livingston, Washtenaw, Monroe and Lenawee counties.

Here is the weather forecast for Detroit.

Use a lot of caution if driving in the southwestern part of our area, as the ice created is black ice -- it can’t be seen. One minute you’re driving on dry pavement, then you cross an overpass that is covered with an invisible sheet of ice. We’ve had a lot of very serious (sometimes fatal) crashes on freezing fog mornings, so be careful out there.

Areas not starting with fog will see mostly sunny skies today. Those of us starting with fog will not see that fog dissipate until late morning at the earliest. Highs in the mid 40s (8 degrees Celsius), with a south-southeast wind at 4 to 9 mph.

Today’s sunrise is at 7:52 a.m., and today’s sunset is at 5:01 p.m.

Mostly clear to partly cloudy Thursday night. IF skies remain clear, then more fog is possible, but I think that some clouds will begin increasing during the second half of the night, which will prevent temperatures from falling all the way to the dewpoint. Lows in the mid 30s (1 to 2 degrees Celsius).

Mostly cloudy on Friday, with highs again in the mid 40s (8 degrees Celsius).

Rain quickly moves in Friday night, with lows in the upper 30s (4 degrees Celsius).

Weekend weather update

Saturday continues to look like a very rainy day (much-needed rain, I might add), and the computer models are in much better agreement today on this scenario. Highs will range from near 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) in our South Zone, to mid 40s (8 degrees Celsius) in the Thumb.

It now appears that the rain/snow line will extend roughly from Bay City / Saginaw to Grand Rapids. North of there, they’ll get 4 to 6 inches of snow, so be aware that travel in central and northern lower Michigan on Saturday will be quite hazardous. Check the radar and road conditions on the Local4Casters weather app if you plan to travel up north this weekend.

Rain here in southeast Michigan changes to snow showers overnight Saturday night, with lows in the mid 30s (2 degrees Celsius).

Snow showers Sunday morning should end, with cloudy skies for the remainder of the day. Steady temperatures in the mid 30s, and it’ll be a breezy day.

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.