Wintry mix, wind to blow through southeast Michigan this week
A blustery February in southeast Michigan will continue this week, with storms bringing a wintry mix to book-end the workweek.
February has been characterized by a "wild swing of active weather systems," said Brian Tilley, National Weather Service meteorologist. "It was a quiet December and we've been making up for it since."
On Sunday, the weather service issued a hazardous weather outlook encompassing much of southeast Michigan. Snow, sleet and freezing rain were expected Monday night through Tuesday morning, bringing with it high winds and the threat of power outages.
"We are preparing for the possibility of an ice storm that could arrive Tuesday,” Guy Packard, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric operations said in a statement. “We urge people to make sure they are prepared with food, water and other vital supplies, and we want the public to know our crews will be in place to respond if the weather causes more damage."
On the west side of the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Grand Rapids Saturday night. That area is still in the throes of mass power outages; electricity provider Consumers Energy said on its outage map that there were 3,400 customers northwest of Ionia without power, down from more than 230,000 in west Michigan from storms late last week. Coming to their aid are some 2,700 employees and contractors, some from as far as Louisiana and Tennessee.
The extreme weather fluctuations have created some unusual weather phenomena, including "ghost apples."
Meteorologist Tyler Sebree from WBND-TV in South Bend, Indiana, featured the unusual ice formations on his Facebook page and explained how they came to exist.
"After freezing rain fell in Michigan this week, any apples that hadn’t been picked yet received a coating of ice. Many fell off the tree," he said. "Some had their insides turn to mush because apples having a lower freezing point than water. That allowed the mush and then the skin to fall to the ground, leaving behind these amazing 'ghost apples.'"
The apples were photographed by Andrew Sietsema in an orchard near Fruit Ridge.
Residents in west Michigan also posted on social media last week to report booms or shakes associated with "frost quakes."
When temperatures drop, water in frozen soil or rock expands and causes cracks and minor explosions known as cryoseisms, according to the Maine Geological Survey. Frost quakes do not release much energy compared to an earthquake.
A half-inch to an inch of snowfall accumulation is expected overnight into Monday — which may "transition to light freezing drizzle," a much more severe repeat is expected overnight Monday, said Tilley.
Most of the day Monday should be cloudy and cool, with a high of about 32. But overnight a wintry mix is supposed to return.
"This system will have the potential to bring a significant mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain Monday night into Tuesday morning before a change over to rain occurs," the outlook reads.
North of Interstate 69, 2 inches of snow are possible, while Metro Detroit could start its day with 1/10th of an inch of ice accumulation. And as ice builds up, so could more power outages.
As that storm leaves Tuesday during the day, temperatures will climb past the freezing point to the low 40s.
Then come the high winds. Gusts of 40 miles per hour are possible, Tilley said.
Tuesday's high winds will bring cold air to the region, dropping overnight lows to the upper 20s, and Wednesday's high to the mid-30s.
Temperatures will rebound Thursday, reaching a high of about 42.
But late that night the wintry mix returns, with rain likely before 11 p.m., then rain and snow, then snow in the hours before the Friday morning commute.
Friday's highcould reach 43 degrees.