News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Weather Service: “wrap up your travel plans by Thursday” as blizzard heads for Michigan

Zac Durant

A winter storm with blizzard conditions is expected to hit the state on Friday. The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids says it's projected to make a significant impact on travel. Rick Brewer spoke with meteorologist Brandon Hoving about what Michiganders can expect heading into the holiday weekend.


Rick Brewer: Brandon, what do the latest models tell us about the winter storm that's coming at the end of the week.

Brandon Hoving: So, right now we're looking at an increasing likelihood for a major winter storm to impact the state of Michigan, especially as we head into Friday. Now, right now it's looking like precipitation could start as early as Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening, mainly in the form of snow, maybe a little freezing rain across the southeast lower Michigan. But the bulk of the snow looks to hold off until Friday. And that's really when we'll see the most significant impacts coming into the region. And it's kind of a double whammy of heavy snow and a lot of wind, high wind with the system. And that's going to create areas of blizzard conditions. Right now looks like this will probably have the widest impacts in terms of a blizzard since the 2011 Groundhog's Day Blizzard, for the state. So, based on what we're seeing right now, with the potential snowfall accumulations, and the wind gusts, this will be very similar, if not worse than that storm. So the impacts are going to be significant as we head into Friday. And really the key message we're trying to stress for people is if at all possible, try to wrap up your travel plans by Thursday, Thursday morning, Thursday afternoon. Because once we get into Friday, the conditions really go downhill with snow and blowing snow, drifting snow. And creating issues across the roads and travel is really going to be severely impacted on Friday. That's not just by road that's also by air. So we're likely to see delays and cancellations at airports all across the state.

RB: How long do we expect the storm to last?

BH: Well, the storm isn't going to completely move out of the region until we get past Christmas Eve. So, on Saturday, especially for the western and northern part of the Lower Peninsula, we'll see snow showers continue with wind driven snow off the lake. And some of that could stretch pretty far inland as well. Even mid-Michigan and south southeast or Michigan potentially with some snow and blowing snow continuing. So, while the worst of it is going to be on Friday, it does not look like we're going to fully recover on Christmas Eve we probably got another day of of significant travel impacts to go through Christmas Eve

RB: When it comes to precipitation levels snow accumulation, what do inches of snow look like for different regions of the state?

BH: Well, just about every location across the state, if not every every location is going to receive significant snow amounts of six to 12 inches or even more. So, one of the big concerns we have is depending on the track of the storm, the area receiving the heaviest snow, could certainly see amounts well over a foot. And that also includes the Mount Pleasant area, potentially. So that's something that we'll be watching. The snowfall amounts up in the upper peninsula will also be very significant, probably one to two feet of snow up in that area. So really statewide, this is a pretty high impact storm. And the winds are going to be significant, really throughout the whole state. So no matter where you're driving, you're going to encounter significant blowing and drifting snow on Friday, which is why we're just encouraging people to consider changing their travel plans if at all possible.

RB: Between now and Friday, Brandon, what will you be watching most closely?

BH: We'll definitely be watching exactly where that storm track sets up. And the computer models that we assess are been really consistent with a storm, which adds confidence to our forecast. So we can tell people that this winter storm will likely impact the state and just to plan right now for it to occur. Just depending on where exactly that storm track sets up will determine who gets the most snow. But at this point, it's it's hard to imagine anybody getting missed.

RB: Brandon, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

BH: Well, you're welcome. Glad to help.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.