It appears the much ballyhooed winter storm might have a lot more bark than bite for West Michigan. As of Thursday morning, the storm has been more bite than bark for folks in Iowa, where more than a foot of snow has fallen in Des Moines, along with some vivid thundersnow, and in Alabama, where severe weather has caused much damage, including a possible tornado in Mobile.The swath of heavy snowfall will march northeast today, from Iowa through Wisconsin, where Blizzard Warnings have been posted by the National Weather Service, and eventually to the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Michigan. Take note if you're planning on traveling north tonight/tomorrow. You'll encounter a lot of snow and blowing snow.
Closer to home, the winter storm may give us more rain and not as much snow. Forecast model trends over the past 12 to 24 hours have been delaying the onset of snow for most of West Michigan (areas north of I-96 have already seen a few inches of heavy wet snow this morning, the result of abundant moisture encountering the cold air in place) until sometime tomorrow morning. This shortens the amount of time we have to pick up much accumulation before the rapidly-moving storm pulls the moisture out of the atmosphere as it heads northeast.
The Severe Weather Center 3 Hour by Hour Forecast started showing this trend with last night's updates, actually holding off the changeover from rain to snow until about noon tomorrow. With the moisture beginning to exit West Michigan by Friday evening, our window of opportunity to pick up the forecasted 2-4" of accumulation might be too small. In fact, I think it is possible that areas along and south of I-94 might be challenged to pick up more than an inch. Might our streak of days without a widespread, accumulating snowfall of an inch or greater -- which today stands at 299 -- be extended? Determining what's coming is always a work in progress, so with that in mind, stay tuned!