Pre-Christmas winter storm blankets Metro Detroit: Less snow, more cold and wind

Dangerous winter storm strikes Friday, affects travel

4Warn Weather – Travel at your own risk today -- though we are still hoping and relying on most of you to avoid travel on this Friday before Christmas. Our Winter Storm Warning continues all day today, and won’t expire until 4 a.m. Saturday.

The biggest problem with travel today will be blowing snow, which will reduce visibility and make it hard to see cars ahead of you, or from any direction. If you don’t have options other than to travel today, plan on plenty of extra time and some extra gear in case you run into trouble.

Temperatures were closer to freezing at midnight, but are already into the teens to lower 20s, if you are brave enough to head out. That wind will knock you around a little bit and create dangerous wind chills that feel sub-zero, and won’t be getting any better all day.

The snow showers and snow totals will be hard to nail down, but we may see another 2-4 inches of new snow this morning into the afternoon. Because the winds will be whipping the snow around, in the end it won’t look like much on the grass regardless of how much snow you got.

The peak winds today will happen during the late morning and especially this afternoon, and that’s when we worry about more treacherous travel from blowing snow, along with the chance for power outages. Those winds will move WSW at 25-40 mph and will gust to 50-60 mph at times, which can knock tree limbs down onto power lines.

Temperatures will fall down through the teens all day, with sub-zero wind chills feeling as cold as -15 degrees Fahrenheit out there. The snow showers will become lighter through the afternoon as the center of this storm moves farther east.

Now, we must keep an eye on lake effect snow bands and squalls coming off of Lake Michigan. This will obviously be much more problematic west of Lansing and Jackson, but we will see some snow streamers moving in here from time to time, which only make that travel even tougher.

Tonight’s sunset is at 5:04 p.m.

Wind, snow continue Saturday

Saturday will only be a little more tranquil, as the winds will continue to crank. That cold becomes brutal and dangerous through Friday and especially the morning hours of Christmas Eve Saturday and Christmas Day on Sunday. Morning temps in the single digits to low teens will feel like -15 degrees first thing Saturday.

Scattered snow showers are possible, again, from those same lake effect snow bands in this wind event. Parts of the area will not see much action at all while others will see a few snow bands move across, especially areas west of I-275 and north of M-59.

Highs will likely not make it out of the upper teens. That wind will be whipping WSW at 20-30 mph and gusting to 35-45 mph at times.

Cold Christmas Day

Christmas Day on Sunday will be bone chilling cold again, with single digits to low teens feeling like -10 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. We will see mostly cloudy skies, and scattered light snow showers and flurries are possible.

High temps will hold in the upper teens to low 20s. A lesser breeze will move WSW at 15-25 mph.

Overall, travel conditions will get better and better as we get through late Saturday and Sunday. We must not forget that cold, though, which can lead to hypothermia and frost bite in a very short time if you are not layered up and protected in this winter weather.

It stays cold to begin next week with more single digits early Monday and Tuesday morning before highs head into the lower 20s under mostly cloudy skies. We may hit the 30s again by Wednesday with a little wintry mix possible here in Metro Detroit next Wednesday or Thursday.

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