'Bomb cyclone' with 50 mph winds possible this weekend

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Downed power lines are marked in Dearborn after a wind storm.

After days of warmer conditions and melting snow, southeast Michigan is headed for a stormy, windy weekend capped by a "bomb cyclone" that could spark outages across the region, the National Weather Service said.

The workweek should end Friday with clear skies and temperatures in the upper 30s. But on Saturday, as the mercury climbs into the lower 40s, showers and thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon and early evening, dropping as much as half an inch of rain in some areas, meteorologist Bryan Tilley said.

"It’s not excessive, but with snow already on the ground in most areas, there could be some rain and combination with snow melt that could lead to water collecting in prone areas and maybe ponding," he said.

But once the moisture leaves early Sunday, a strong low pressure system pushing east could whip up other problems in Metro Detroit.

Winds as high as 50-60 mph are expected starting after sunrise Sunday and peaking in the afternoon, bringing the possibility of downed power lines and tree limbs across the region.

The gusts are part of a "bomb cyclone," or what weather experts call a low-pressure system intensifying by at least 24 millibars, which measures atmospheric pressure, in 24 hours, Tilley said. 

"That’s much stronger than average," Tilley said. "We usually get something like this once a winter season. The last time we had wind potential that was this strong was in May of 2018. It's not completely unusual, but it's not a common occurrence, either."

The winds should diminish Monday, when temperatures could reach 32, or some 5 degrees below average, under party sunny skies.

Colder conditions are on tap for Tuesday as snow showers return and the thermometer reaches the upper 20s, the weather service said.