GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The first extended blast of cold air in West Michigan this winter will create a complicated set of hazards that will vary in time and location. In order to break it down for you, here’s an outline of what to expect for various parts of the area into early next week:
Windy and mild with scattered snow showers, which may mix with rain at times. Little to no snow accumulation for most of West Michigan. Highs will be near 40°.
SATURDAY NIGHT – SUNDAY
Winds will pick up even more and gradually shift to the west and northwest as a strong cold front moves through. Temperatures fall into the 20s with wind chills dropping into the teens and possibly even single digits. Lake-effect snow showers start to develop, with the combination of wind and snow greatly reducing visibility at times. Roads will become snow-covered and slick as wet pavement freezes and snow falls on top of it.
Snow totals through Sunday afternoon will range from generally an inch or two away from Lake Michigan to two to four inches west of U.S. 131.
SUNDAY NIGHT – MONDAY
As winds settle down a bit and shift more to the northwest, lake-effect snow bands will become heavier and more concentrated in the traditional lake-effect snowbelts, particularly in Oceana/Mason counties, as well as from Holland southward through western Allegan, Van Buren, and Kalamazoo counties toward the state line. Snow will taper off as you get east of U.S. 131. Inland areas may pick up another couple of inches, but the heaviest bands may dump six to twelve inches or more along the lakeshore during this timeframe.
All over West Michigan, we’ll see temperatures holding in the teens to around 20°, with wind chills likely near zero. Blowing snow will only add to any issues that are created.
School closings are likely in lake-effect areas Monday morning, even though many schools in West Michigan will already be closed for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
TUESDAY – WEDNESDAY
During this time, it becomes less clear how the lake-effect snow bands will evolve and how much more snow we will see. Regardless, temperatures staying in the teens will make it difficult to clear roads of existing ice and snow; blowing and drifting may continue to be an issue; and wind chills around or below zero will make it challenging to be outside for extended periods of time. Some schools may still need to close Tuesday or Wednesday.
As you can see, winter is about to make a pretty furious comeback after being absent for so long. That said, this event will be a pretty normal one for mid-January — just one to which many people will likely have a hard time adjusting. Common sense and the usual winter driving and safety precautions will go a long way toward helping you deal with the weather.
The details of the forecast will still change a bit as we move through the weekend, so stay with FOX 17 Weather for the latest developments. While other weather events have been a bust so far this winter, there is little to no chance that this one won’t happen. The questions at this point lie in determining how severe the weather will become, and who will be hit the hardest (and when).