Metro Detroit to see prolonged, widespread snow, rain next week

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

It could get sloppy in southeast Michigan next week as forecasts put widespread rain, snow, freezing rain or some of everything in the area as a large low pressure system moves across the eastern United States.

Starting late Tuesday or Wednesday, there is a "good chance" that a cold front will impact the lower Great Lakes, according to Ian Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township, and it could last through Thursday night or Friday morning. 

It is too early to tell exactly how much precipitation the system will bring, Lee said, or to which regions, but impacted areas may stretch from northern to southeast Michigan, with the potential to reach further south to central Ohio and Indiana.

At this point, forecasts vary:

♦ The National Weather Service on Thursday said for next week "rain, snow, and wintry mix will all be on the table." From Midland to Monroe, the weather service predicts a 70-80 percent chance of rain and snow on Wednesday.

♦ The Weather Channel's 10-day forecast for Detroit predicts up to 5 inches of snow Wednesday night, 3-5 inches on Feb. 3 and 1-3 inches that night. 

♦ Accuweather's longer term forecast for Detroit on Wednesday predicts "sleet and freezing rain late; until then, a mix of snow, sleet and rain in the evening." For the overnight hours into Feb. 3, "sleet and freezing rain" is in the forecast.

The National Weather Service says the cold front will arrive from the Central Plains, east of the Rocky Mountains, according to Lee, and it is expected to create an "elongated baroclinic zone service," where a warm air mass and a cold air mass meet. 

Boundaries for those can extend hundreds of miles, Lee said.