It's almost here: Significant winter storm to hit Metro Detroit

Warnings and advisories have been issued

By Paul Gross - Meteorologist

DETROIT - The Local4Casters have been telling you about it for a few days now, and it’s finally almost here. A significant winter storm will really mess up our Friday, including both rush hours, as well as air traffic at Metro Airport.

We'll have a dry evening, with no weather worries for any errands or plans you have.

Snow will develop after midnight and, by dawn, it’ll be really coming down. At morning rush hour time, areas south of 8 Mile will likely have a solid two inches of snow already on the ground (perhaps even near three inches in spots), with one-to-two inches from 8 Mile northward to M-59, and generally an inch or so north of M-59. Lows tonight in the mid teens (-9 degrees Celsius) will be set by midnight, with temperatures starting to creep upward from there. Wind will be light and variable.

Snow continues through the day on Friday, although some models are actually suggesting a period in the afternoon where the snow actually tapers off for a while across the northern half of the area, before another batch moves in late afternoon into the evening. The southern half of the area should maintain steady snow all day long.

If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest downloading the FREE Local4Casters App, just search for WDIV in the App Store, and you’ll see it right there. When you open the app, it opens right to what you want to see first: the radar page. You can pan and zoom the radar anywhere you want, and remember that the app follows you wherever you travel, the radar shows you the weather anywhere in the nation, and even in Europe.

Wherever you are, when you open the app, it opens to your location. Also remember to follow us on Twitter at @Local4Casters, and you can also follow me at @PGLocal4, for personalized updates.

If nothing else, it’ll be pretty cool watching the big blob of snow over us tomorrow, and seeing where (if) that break for northern areas materializes. If you don’t have a smart phone, no worries…the Local4Casters will keep you updated on Local 4 and on

Highs Friday will be in the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius), and the east wind will only blow at 5 to 10 mph, so at least it won’t be a nasty feeling day…just a nasty one for commuting.

Friday’s sunrise is at 7:37 a.m., and Friday’s sunset is at 5:58 p.m.

Snow will diminish by midnight Saturday. As far as total snow, there will be a considerable difference in snow amounts in southeast Michigan.

Right now (and this could still change based upon some very small-scale details yet to be resolved), it appears that the heaviest band of snow will be south of 8 Mile…with areas there picking up six to nine inches of snow, and possibly even a little more. Between 8 Mile and M-59, this is looking more like a four-to-seven inch snowfall.

The toughest part of the forecast is actually north of M-59, because there will likely be a very sharp drop-off in accumulation on the northern part of this snow shield. Some models project only two-to-four inches for this area, while other models suggest a little more.

Needless-to-say, Friday will be a very tough day for travel around the region and, based upon the sheer number of people e-mailing, texting, tweeting and Facebook messaging me, it appears that a lot of people have a lot of travel planned.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for areas south of 8 Mile until 12 a.m. Saturday, and a Winter Weather Advisory north of 8 Mile (except for Sanilac County). Two important caveats:

  1. Don’t just look at the highest number of the ranges and think that this is what you’ll get. These are ranges, with expected snowfall in the range.
  2. Because of the sharp drop-off in snow amounts as you head north, keep in mind that even small north-south shifts in where the snow band sets up can increase or reduce your snow amounts rather dramatically.

Here is a series of maps showing you the running totals for snow accumulation Friday into Saturday morning:

Since the southern half of the area likely will get six or more inches of snow and travel will be so nasty, we’re pegging this snow as a “Pizza and Beer” snow, just stay in, throw a frozen pizza in the oven, grab your favorite beverage, and watch the snow.

Another batch of accumulating snow is possible on Saturday, although this looks to be much less accumulation than we’ll see on Friday. Highs in the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius).

Yet another batch of snow (the last one), crosses the area on Sunday, with more light accumulation possible. Highs again in the upper 20s (-2 degrees Celsius).

Here is a series of maps showing you the snowfall progression into the weekend:

Most of next week looks dry, with perhaps a rain or snow shower chance on Thursday. Highs looks to moderate into the low to mid 30s (-1 to 2 degrees Celsius).

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