GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s going to be a case of “weather whiplash” for residents of West Michigan, going from the first 70s and the warmest stretch of spring weather to a late-season “winter” storm system into early Thursday.
Because of the potential of snow and wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet as well a Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect through 10 a.m. Thursday.
Triggering the change is a masssive storm that pulled out of the Rockies and deepened into the Central Plains Wednesday.
The storm sytem headed into the western Great Lakes, bringing some heavy rain, strong winds and even some accumulating snow to West Michigan.
Incredibly, there are six states included in a blizzard warning, the largest area that I can remember for an April storm, with numerous winter storm warnings and advisories adjacent. Some areas in Nebraska and South Dakotata were expected to get over two feet of snow.
The amount of snow that we ultimately receive hinged a lot upon how fast the rain transitioned to snow.
Since the transition will happen overnight, I do expect accumulating snow and a few slippery spots here and there, especially north of I-94. You may want to set alarm clock a little earlier for Thursday morning. By early morning the main area of snow will begin to shift north. I think much of Thursday afternoon will be precipitation free.
The current forecast seems to be around an inch in most locations north of I-94.
Other forecast models also indicate accumulating snow probabilities between a half inch to as much as three.
These amounts are a 10:1 ratio, but I think the liquid-to-snow ratio will be lower, therefore giving us closer to an inch.
Rain will actually be the most dominant precipitation type with this storm system and it will be heavy at times.
This will push streams and river levels up over the weekend. The best chance of heavy rain will be later Thursday night into early Friday morning with strong showers and possible embedded thunderstorms. Strong winds will be possible with gusts well over 40 mph.
The Storm Prediction Center has shifted the marginal (or low) risk further north into southern Michigan.
The Futurecast model shows the potential severe line of storms moving through between 2am and 7am Thursday night, Friday morning. This liine could bring winds in excess of 50mph.
The winds will be strong even outside of any storms. Sustained winds from the east Thursday will be 20 mph to 30 mph with wind gusts over 40 mph at times.
Combine that with temperatures peaking around 40 degrees and that it make for a fairly miserable day.
You would think after this upcoming bout of miserable weather, that we might be in the clear. Not so fast. There are indications yet another storms system Sunday may provide us with more wintry weather.
Just remember we average just under two inches of snow in April. Last year we got six.
But I want to end on a positive note. April 24 represents the average date of the first 80 degree temperature. We can only hope.
ROAD COMMISSION READY TO SALT, PLOW
Kent County Road Commission told 24 Hour News 8 it’s switched about half of their trucks into summer operations. Although, there are trucks that still have salters attached.
The road commission has multiple sets of equipment that they can switch over quickly. They’ll start switching more trucks over Thursday, if deemed necessary.
“We have close to half our fleet still available to spread salt,” said Jerry Byrne with Kent County Road Commission. “About 80 percent of the fleet keeps the underbody scraper, so they can scrape snow off the road year around those don’t come off. We’re ready for what may come.”
Byrne said they have plenty of salt for the roads. Apparently, the salt dome is about three-fourths full. Byrne is confident they won’t run out.
It will be another month until all their trucks are switched over from winter to summer gear, according to Byrne.