Christmas could bring up to 16 inches of snow in part of U.P., cold statewide

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Snow for Christmas is in the forecast for U.P. residents, where up to 16 inches may fall near the Porcupine Mountains and as much as 14 inches elsewhere.

The National Weather Service predicts a cold Christmas Eve as a front pushes through Metro Detroit, with temperatures dropping into the 20s during the day.

The normal high for late December in the area is in the low 30s, the weather service reported.

Snow for Christmas is in the forecast for U.P. residents, where up to 16 inches may fall near the Porcupine Mountains and as much as 14 inches elsewhere.

There's a chance of snow showers as the holiday arrives Friday, with the mercury hovering in the upper 20s. Many spots across southeast Michigan, from Port Huron to Detroit and Monroe, could see no more than an inch of snow on the ground by then, the weather service said.

But it's a different story on the west side of the state, where the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the areas closest to Lake Michigan, including Lake, Newaygo, Barry, Kent and Kalamazoo counties, from 4 a.m. Thursday until 7 p.m. Friday.

"Some snow is on the way especially for our lakeshore region. Several inches are looking possible Christmas Eve + Christmas Day mainly west of US 131," officials with the service's Grand Rapids station said. "Highest totals will likely be confined to western portions of the lakeshore counties with lighter amounts elsewhere."

According to the advisory, total snow accumulations could range from an inch or less over eastern counties to near 6 inches over western counties, with winds gusting as high as 40 mph.

"Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute," the notice said. "The greatest snow threat will be after midnight on Christmas morning."

There could be moderate impact on travel in cities such as Ludington and Kalamazoo.

In the Upper Peninsula, travelers could see treacherous conditions amid an arctic blast.

A winter storm warning is in effect for Gogebic County until 1 a.m. Friday as heavy lake effect snow is expected.

"Total snow accumulations of 8 to 14 inches over western Gogebic County near Ironwood, Bessemer, and Wakefield with localized higher amounts possible," the weather service said.

Some 3 to 8 inches are possible from Marenisco east to Watersmeet. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph could lead to blowing snow at times.

"Travel could be very difficult to impossible," the weather service said. "Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions will impact travel on Christmas Eve."

Meanwhile, a winter weather advisory is in effect for areas near Houghton, including the Copper Harbor, Ontonagon, Hancock, L`Anse, Kenton and Sidnaw, until 1 a.m. Friday.

"Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches, except locally higher amounts of 8 to 12 inches over the higher terrain, and up to 16 inches possible near the Porcupine Mountains," the weather service said. "Winds gusting to around 35 mph will lead  to areas of blowing snow."

Elsewhere in the U.P., residents could face other weather woes.

A lakeshore flood advisory is in effect from 1 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday in Marquette and Alger counties.

"Waves building up to 16 feet are expected later tonight into Thursday morning with minor lakeshore flooding expected," the weather service said.

Light snow showers are possible later Thursday and on Christmas Day, but totals could reach about 1-3 inches around Marquette and the peninsula's central parts, according to the forecast.

Temperatures across the U.P. are expected to be frigid, with highs topping out in the 20s on Thursday and Friday, and lows falling into the teens.