We are keeping a close eye on a powerful storm system which will move across the region this weekend. This storm will bring us hazardous weather conditions at times starting late Friday and continuing through the weekend.
Periods of rain, freezing rain and sleet, along with snow will all be possible over a prolonged period from Friday night through early Sunday morning.
It's important to know that this forecast will fluctuate while better data becomes available over the next few days. Be sure to check back to this article often.
- Last updated: 5:30 AM Friday.
Winter Weather Alerts
Winter Storm Warning: in effect for the counties of Clare, Gratiot, and Isabella from late tonight through Sunday morning.
Winter Storm Watch: in effect for all other TV5 counties from late tonight through Sunday morning. These watches will likely be upgraded later today.
For more specific information, head to our Weather Alerts page.
Current Storm Timing & Evolution
Our weather system will begin picking up Friday night and we won't be done with this storm system completely until Sunday morning. Once the system arrives, we'll be dealing with multiple variables over a prolonged period.
Our current thinking for how things evolve this weekend is that rain from Friday night will gradually transition to a wintry mix and snow through the day on Saturday, eventually becoming all snow as the system pulls away on Sunday morning.
This storm will likely come in two waves, with the possibility of a break in the early afternoon hours. Although things may slow down for a time, don't expect it to last long as another wave is expected late Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Where the system actually tracks and the surface temperatures will be key in determining what type of precipitation you'll see at your house. That track will become more clear as we get closer to the weekend.
Flooding & Rainfall Potential
One thing that may get lost in the shuffle of the winter weather discussion will be the amount of moisture that will be coming along with this system. Total liquid precipitation through the weekend could add up to 2-3.5" in many areas (a bit lighter north), with the potential for locally higher amounts, especially downstate.
With all the rain coming our way from this system, a Flood Watch has been issued for the three counties along I-69.
No doubt about it, that's a lot of water over a 36 hour period. Elevated river levels and other types of flooding will be possible, along with run-off. Areas north of I-69 will see their fair share of water too, but flooding concerns are a bit less with more snow and frozen precipitation expected there.
Northeasterly winds that may gust over 40 MPH at times, will lead to more issues with lakeshore flooding. A Lakeshore Flood Watch has been issued from Saturday morning through Saturday night. These flood concerns could trickle down into the Saginaw River as well.
If you live along the lakeshore or the Saginaw River, make any preparations now.
Also note-worthy, with all this rain expected, once our temperatures do drop below freezing any standing water will have a chance to freeze over. This will create dangerous travel conditions because ice will form from that, plus we have our ice potential.
Winter Weather Impacts: Freezing Rain, Sleet, & Snow
All types of winter weather precipitation will be possible around the area this weekend in addition to the rain. This will be a very temperature sensitive event and this will likely be the part of the forecast we refine the most over for the next few days.
A small change in temperatures can mean a big change for your area. The timing of those temperature changes will be important to amounts, too. This is especially true around the Tri-Cities area where there will be a fine line between sleet and snow.
Freezing rain will require the most attention as there appears to be potential for ice amounts that will range anywhere from 0.1"-0.5". In the heaviest freezing rain zone, we could see locally higher amounts. Ice accumulation, along with breezy conditions could lead to power outages.
The ice map below shows where the best odds are for 0.25" or more of ice accumulation.
As colder air moves in, areas of freezing rain will gradually changeover to sleet and snow. The faster we can make this change, the less ice accumulation we'll see, so a quick change would be ideal.
Snowfall and sleet amounts with this system will be highest north and west of Saginaw Bay. Our latest thinking continues to highlight our northern most areas receiving the heaviest totals. It's in this area where 6" looks likely with potential for totals to approach one foot. Totals will get progressively lighter the farther south you go.
If you're close to a transition zone, know the possibility is there for changes in your area with any small shifts in storm track. These totals will also be dictated by exactly how much mixing we see, and will likely be adjusted, so check back for updates.
We can't stress enough that this forecast is not final. Although we are confident that we'll see some inclement weather this weekend, the track and amounts are still unfolding.
Keep checking back with the First Warn 5 Weather team on-air and online.