GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A strong and potentially very impactful winter storm is now expected for West Michigan as the end of the week nears. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued with a potential upgrade to a Blizzard Warning for many before the storm arrives.

Confidence continues to increase for near-blizzard or blizzard conditions Friday and Saturday. Travel is not advised, especially on Friday. A Winter Storm Watch will be issued soon with the potential of a blizzard warning in the next two days.

Storm Team 8 meteorologists, as well as the meteorologists they partner with at the National Weather Service, say the increased certainty with this storm has to do with the incredible consistency of forecast models in the strength and placement of the system.

At this time, Storm Team 8 has high confidence in the following:

  • Snowfall 10-20″ through the weekend
  • Winds gusting to 55 mph
  • Blowing snow and drifting snow
  • Snowfall totals could reach 2 ft along/west US-131
  • Wind chills 0-15° beginning Friday afternoon lasting though Sunday
Snow totals Thursday through Sunday.

Some track, timing and intensity discrepancies still exist. But the overall trend has been unflinchingly clear.

The combination of heavy snow, cold air, and strong winds could make for numerous dangerous situations, including on the roads and in instances of power outages.


This storm continues to look unusually strong in the forecast models, and its consistency in doing so raises concerns about significant impacts from wind, snow, and cold.

Currently, the storm system hasn’t even formed yet. It will likely come together quickly in the Plains states Wednesday night into Thursday. It is expected to rapidly intensify, especially as it stalls over Lake Michigan Thursday into Friday.

Example of a forecast model run for the late-week powerful storm expected to hit the Great Lakes.

Winter storm watches have already been issued for a very large portion of the central United States. As of mid-afternoon, it includes Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, and Branch counties; but again, a watch will be coming for the rest of the area before long.

As that powerfully cold air spills into the Great Lakes, it will merge with warm, moist air from the south to unload snow. Right now it looks like the highest risk for heavy snow will begin overnight Thursday into Friday. Lake effect snow showers will likely wrap in Saturday, unleashing additional totals for some (but not all) of our viewing area, likely in the west-northwest flow favored locations.

Christmas Day is looking quieter, although light lake effect snow showers are still expected with wind chills in the teens. Impacts from significant snowfall, drifted snow and continued cold will likely spill over into Christmas morning. This will likely be the coldest Christmas we’ve seen in years.

Bill’s Blog has an inside look at what meteorologist forecasters are saying at various National Weather Service offices across the region about this storm.

Stay with Storm Team 8 for clear and conscientious reporting before, during and after the storm.