Record temperatures, high winds in forecast this week
A week that started mild and sunny across lower Michigan is going to turn warm, windy and rainy midweek.
Light rain or drizzle is expected to start tonight into Wednesday, according to National Weather Service forecasts, and, while rain is expected to persist from west to east, total rainfall through Thursday will likely remain below half an inch.
But temperatures will climb and so will wind speeds.
"A deepening low pressure system will bring a lot of warm air into southwest Lower Michigan on Wednesday with highs expected to be generally in the upper 50s," the National Weather Service says, and the same is expected for southeast Michigan.
That system brings the potential for temperatures that will rival records and wind gusts that could exceed 50 mph again, less than a week after high winds left hundreds of thousands in Michigan without power.
The weather service says southeast Michigan will be "noticeably warmer Wednesday afternoon as highs climb into the mid-upper 50s or about 20 degrees above climatological normals." Those temperatures will persist into early Thursday, when the high could approach 60 degrees.
Normal temperatures for the Detroit-Flint-Saginaw area for mid-December are around 35 degrees. A record high of 61 for Detroit on Dec. 15 was set in 1933, and of 60 degrees in both Flint and Saginaw in 1971. Records for Dec. 16 were set in 1984 for all three cities: 65 in Detroit, 62 in Flint and 60 in Saginaw.
Similar records hold for west Michigan.
But the big story of the day is likely to be wind.
Across lower Michigan, gusts up to 40 mph are possible Wednesday and up to 50 mph early Thursday.
A storm watch is in effect Wednesday evening through Thursday afternoon all along the state's Lake Michigan coastline, with southwest winds 25 to 35 knots and gusts up to 50 knots and waves 7 to 12 feet possible, according to the weather service.
A gale watch is in effect from Wednesday night through Thursday for Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay. "Expect sustained winds up to 31 knots from the southwest with gusts up to 40 knots. The largest significant waves will be 9 feet with a potential maximum wave height of 13 feet," according to the weather service. Maximum wind speeds are expected midday.
But a rapid return to normal is expected.
"The wind diminishes quickly by Thursday evening after bringing in an air mass with temperatures more typical of mid December," the weather service says. "Lows drop into the 20s with highs in the 30s Friday and Saturday as the front stalls ... ." Some snow showers could be included, according to the forecast.