Storm warning issued for up to 8 inches of snow in Metro Detroit starting Thursday

The Detroit News

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Metro Detroit with up to 8 inches of snow expected beginning Thursday afternoon.

That's in addition to flood watches, wind advisories and rain slated for the region.

Heavy snow, with accumulations of 4-8 inches are predicted for St. Clair, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Monroe counties from 3 p.m. Thursday until 3 a.m. Friday, the weather service said.

Freezing rain and sleet are possible Thursday afternoon, mainly south of Interstate 94, with heavy snow developing in the late afternoon and peak snowfall rates occurring between 5-10 p.m. Thursday.

Snow is expected to taper off around and just after midnight.

At least one school, Lawrence Technological University, has announced it will close at 2 p.m. Thursday and canceling classes in anticipation of the storm.

The Dearborn Police Department issued a storm warning alert that replaced its earlier storm watch based on National Weather Service information.

"If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency," the city's alert said.

A flood watch also continues until Thursday afternoon for southeast Michigan for areas including  Lenawee, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne. counties.

Flooding could be an issue into the weekend, with the weather service hydrologic outlook for the Grand Rapids area saying minor flooding and ice jams are possible due to rain and rapidly melting snow.

The combination "will bring river levels up significantly in the Grand and Kalamazoo River basins over the next several days," the weather service said, bringing a few locations "near or slightly above bankfull."

Portage, Sycamore Creek, Red Cedar and Looking Glass are expected to rise on Thursday and Friday. Into the weekend, the downstream segments of the Grand and Kalamazoo rivers will see more substantial rises, but widespread flooding is not expected. Some tributary rivers in the Lansing area could rise to near-flood stage.

Snow melted quickly in Wednesday temperatures of 50 degrees, reached near 4 p.m. The rain Wednesday was expected to add about three-quarters of an inch of water to the snowmelt, the service said.

The frozen ground will keep much of the water from "being able to soak in, and instead send even more water into the river systems," leaving standing water in low spots and poor drainage areas.

According to the weather service, the concern is that rising water levels could start to break up river ice.

"Ice is most widespread along the Grand River and its tributaries, so this is where the risk of an ice jam forming are the highest, especially as we head through the weekend," it said.

Elsewhere, a storm warning is in effect for Calhoun and Jackson counties, including the cities of Battle Creek and Jackson, from 6 a.m. Thursday to  1 a.m. Friday. Heavy snow is expected with accumulations of 4-6 inches Thursday afternoon and evening after a period of sleet, snow and freezing rain early in the morning, the weather service said.

The mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet are possible thanks to the combination of an arctic front and a strong low pressure system lifting across the eastern Great Lakes.

A flood watch in effect through Thursday afternoon for Lenawee, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

"Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations," the weather service said.

"Plan on slippery road conditions," the weather service said. "The hazardous conditions will impact the evening commute."

What to expect

Rain overnight Wednesday into Thursday will heighten flooding concerns.

Thursday

Forecast: Rain overnight continues through Thursday morning.

Details: More than an inch of rain is expected. Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.

Thursday

Forecast: As a cold front moves through, rain will change to snow, though periods of freezing rain and sleet also are possible.

Details: The forecast calls for up to 4-8  inches of snow for west, southwest and southeast Michigan. Up to 7 inches of snow could fall in southwest Michigan.

Snow is expected in central and southern Michigan Thursday.