First storm of 2020 looks to be a good one

With a severe winter storm expected to bring a mix of rain, snow, and freezing rain to the Lower Peninsula this weekend, the first storm of the new year looks to be a good one.

CADILLAC — Rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow — the first storm of 2020 could be a good one.

By now you probably know that the weekend weather is likely not going to be ideal for travel as the storm system was expected to move-in Friday night. The outlook for Saturday is just as bad.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Tim Locker said Friday night the expectation was the Cadillac area was going to get a mix of snow and freezing rain. That, however, will switch to snow starting after midnight Saturday. By 7 a.m. Saturday the chance for freezing rain should be over and all precipitation will be in the form of snow, Locker said.

Fast-forward to 7 a.m. Sunday and there is potential for between 6-10 inches of fresh snow to be on the ground. Temperatures this weekend also will be winter-like after mild temperatures and rain were the norms the past couple days.

Locker said highs Saturday will be similar to the lows Friday night and will struggle to get out of the mid-20s. Saturday night the lows will dip back into the teens and by Sunday highs will rebound to the low-20s. Wind chills will be in the single digits, Locker said.

With winds gusting up to 35-40 mph at times, Locker said if there is an accumulation of ice before the 6-10 inches of snow there is potential for power outages.

Accuweather Meteorologist Randy Adkins said on Friday the Winter Storm Watch that was in effect was upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning. While it may seem like that means that things are now worse than what was originally anticipated, Adkins said that just means that collectively the National Weather Service is more confident the forecast will be accurate.

He also said the Cadillac area is close to the dividing line for freezing rain and snow. He said there is potential to see rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow but the Cadillac area will mostly see snow and sleet.

The amount of accumulation will depend on if the weather is more of the frozen precipitation or just snow with glazing of ice.

What isn't in question is the second wave of moisture that is expected to move in Saturday night and with it will be the heaviest precipitation.

On Friday, Consumers Energy warned customers freezing rain forecasted for Saturday “will likely lead to downed wires and power outages that could last several days.‘

Freezing rain was expected to begin across much of south-central Michigan Saturday morning and continue for several hours, the Jackson-based utility said. As much as one-half to 1 inch (1.2-2.5 centimeters) of ice accumulation is possible in a general area from Interstate 94 north to U.S. 10, it said.

A half-inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) to a span of power lines, Consumers said.

Accompanying the ice will be gusty winds and heavy snow in northern Michigan.

People should stay at least 25 feet away from a downed wire and anything it is touching, the utility said.

Locker said the Cadillac area should see roughly 0.1 inches of potential ice accumulation.

With the storm forecasted this weekend, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division encouraged Michiganders to be ready for potential flooding, power outages and dangerous travel.

Flooding is possible along and south of I-94, while the area south of the U.S. 10 corridor and north of I-94 is most at risk for ice accumulations, according to a release by the MSP.

“Both flooding and freezing rain have the ability to be life-threatening,‘ Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, said.

If the power does go out, the MSP suggests to not touch a downed power line or objects in contact with the downed power line. If you come across one, report it to the police and the utility company. During the power outage, use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power.

Avoid actions that can result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide such as using a grill indoors, a non-vented gas or kerosene heater, or a generator inside a home or garage. The MSP also recommends not using an oven or stove to heat a home and to use extreme caution when driving.

Although the storm could have widespread impact, Locker said once it passes through the region on Sunday there is nothing behind it. That means once the storm ends there is not a threat for a follow-up storm. That said, Adkins said there could be a weak disturbance Sunday night into Monday where an additional inch or two of snow could accumulate.


The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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