A shot of wintry mix will create a period of slick driving conditions over the southern half of Lower Michigan. A winter weather advisory covers about the southern half of Lower Michigan for freezing rain, snow or a mixture of both.
The winter weather advisory stretches from Bay City/Saginaw/Midland and Grand Rapids’ Kent County southward through all of the southern Michigan cities. An important note is the winter weather advisory doesn’t start until the middle of the night tonight.
First, you should know there is a light, one inch snow moving through much of Lower Michigan today. This is not associated with the heavier precipitation starting overnight tonight.
The main area of precipitation will start between midnight and 3 a.m. tonight from I-94 southward. The precipitation will likely start as freezing rain or sleet across far southern Michigan tonight. The precipitation will then move northward into colder air and be mostly snow from Flint and Grand Rapids northward.
Here’s the radar forecast tonight and tomorrow.
Next is a series of important times for the transition from freezing rain to rain. Eventually, if you can wait until sometime late Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon to travel, you will have just wet roads as temperatures warm above freezing.
The radar forecast at 3 a.m. shows why Tuesday morning’s early drive could be slick over southern Michigan. The purple represents freezing rain.
By 7 a.m. Tuesday we may have temperatures at around 33 degrees and major roadways starting to turn wet. I don’t have an exact time for you when it will become safer to drive, but it’s probably sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. along I-94, I-69 and I-96. Flint northward to Saginaw, Bay City and Midland will have moderate snow falling and slick roads during the morning drive.
By noon Tuesday, it should be a tale of wet snow in central Lower Michigan versus rain in southern Lower Michigan. In the afternoon even the Saginaw/Bay City area should have mixed snow and sleet changing to rain and then ending. You may have to wait until early afternoon before roads warm above freezing around the Tri-Cities and Flint.
Remember: when we get sleet and rain mixed in with snow, the total snow amounts are mashed down. I’d call this a 2 inch to 4 inch snow for Grand Rapids and Muskegon to Flint, Saginaw and Bay City.
The ice accumulation in the freezing rain area will be between one-tenth and two-tenths of an inch. This is enough of an ice buildup to cause really slick driving but not enough fortunately for large amounts of power outages. This is especially true since warmer air is coming to melt the ice Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s the ice accumulation forecast for Tuesday morning.
From Flint, Lansing and Grand Rapids southward we have to watch for one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation.
Eventually we all warm up considerably Wednesday into the weekend. More on that here by noon today.