Timeline on freezing rain, snow to rain changeover, and how much ice, snow

A mixed bag of precipitation is going to cover most of Lower Michigan today. With very slowly warming temperatures, it will take a while before the wintry mix changes to just rain.

There are going to be two different zones of weather today. The southern third of Lower Michigan, as far north as I-96 and I-69, will have mostly freezing rain this morning changing to rain this afternoon. The central third of Lower Michigan from I-96/I-69 north to near Traverse City and Oscoda will have mostly snow, but a very wet snow mixed with sleet and occasional freezing rain. This area includes Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Bay City, Midland, Mount Pleasant, Clare and Cadillac. Traverse City will probably stay just outside of any accumulation over one inch.

The warming today will be very slow. Most of southern Michigan will only get to 34 degrees by late morning and the northern half of Lower Michigan will only warm to 33 degrees. This is warm enough to make salt work effectively on main highways and salted roads. The side streets and rural roads that are snow packed now may not have melting until late tonight or tomorrow.

Here’s the radar forecast from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Blue is snow, purple is freezing rain, salmon color is snow, sleet and/or freezing rain. Green is rain.

Radar forecast from 8 a.m. today to 11 p.m.

You get the idea the early morning freezing rain will change to rain by around noon from I-94 southward. The rain will end in the mid-afternoon in the south. For this area, just wait a few hours for salt to work on main highways, but still be careful in parking lots and on your sidewalk.

The freezing rain ice accumulation now and over the next few hours will be one-tenth of one inch to two-tenths of one inch. So it will be a light buildup of ice, but not enough for major power outages, especially since temperatures will warm above freezing by a degree or two. This area includes Detroit, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Lansing, and Kalamazoo.

The snow will dominate the precipitation type for Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland. We can expect 1 to 3 inches of total snow in this area and one-tenth of one inch of ice accumulation. The ice accumulation will be in the southern part of this area, including Flint and Grand Rapids. Temperatures won’t make it consistently to 33 degrees until mid-afternoon. This means any untreated road or sidewalk will have a very slow melt off of ice.

In this case the freezing rain sticks a little more aggressively to the roads at 32 degrees because of the recent very cold temperatures. While the air temperature may say 33 degrees, the ground surface temperature could still be 30 degrees. It will take longer for the ground to warm up compared to the air temperature.

Here’s the total snowfall expected. Let’s call it a 1 inch to 3 inch snow for a strip right across the middle of Lower Michigan.

Total snowfall forecast for today, January 23, 2024

Here’s the total additional ice accumulation forecast which shows another up to one-tenth of an inch of freezing rain accumulation.

Additional freezing rain accumulation for Tuesday, January 23.

The temperature forecast for mid-afternoon shows you why you’ll still have to watch the previously really cold surfaces on sidewalks and snow-packed rural roads. The temperature will just inch a degree or two above freezing.

Temperature forecast at 3 p.m. today, January 23, 2024

A temperature of 33 degrees or 34 degrees is going to be very common this afternoon all across Lower Michigan. This will slowly melt any ice on trees and make it instant melting on any salted road.

If you have to travel today and can wait a couple of hours, you should have much better road conditions. We will just have to use some caution and keep your eyes open for a change from wet to icy as you get onto side roads and parking lots.

Tomorrow’s rain is just that – all rain and no freezing rain or snow. Thursday’s precipitation is also all rain, and more of it. You should also get the idea that we have another solid wet period coming over the next few days. You can find more on that here later today.

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