For you with travel plans today, you really need to keep alert to how the lake effect snow bands line during your travels into and out of Northern Michigan. I was in quite a quandary this morning with what I should start out with. I decided on what has been happening through the last few hours and go from there.
The first image is the radar of the Great Lakes region. Noticing that most of the bands this morning have taken a NNW flow look overnight. This happened because a trough moved through the Upper Great Lakes and turned the flow overnight, especially, in Northern Lower this morning.
The second image is the radar from Montreal River, Ontario from our friends at Environment Canada. If you look at the bands on the radar they are oriented almost N to S or even a bit NNE to SSW as the bands come onshore in Eastern and Central Upper. You can see this on the MQT radar as well.
The third image is from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK and this is their meso-analysis page. I have the analysis for Lake Snow 2 on here with shows the wind stream (black lines with arrows) in the lowest part of the atmosphere. These winds from the surface up to about 5000-7000 ft. control the orientation of the snow bands. This analysis was done at 6:30am. So you can see the winds enter Lake Superior with a NNE flow, then turn NNW back over Upper Michigan and then into Lower Michigan. This has caused issues inland from the N Flow areas as was expected overnight (Lake effect rarely goes as you envision it, it seems).
The fourth image is the regional radar and surface obs from the NWS’s experimental Enhanced Data Display (I really love this site and wish it was operational so it could get a higher priority server-wise. Not to mention Canadian radar data). It is showing the bands in a little more detail, and that the surface winds are pretty well aligned with the bands.
So that’s the current situation. However, the fifth, sixth, and seventh images tell what is to come today.
The fifth image is showing the N Flow counties, which are still in play and that the winds are expected to gradually shift to the north from the NNW. The NWS Gaylord office has put up the sixth graphic, which shows the expected snow amount through tonight as well as some highlights.
The seventh and last image is the snow amounts through Thursday at 100 pm.
So now the travel forecast today…One thing to glean from these last two graphics is the placement of the heavier snow areas. The main one is around the Traverse City area and points south and west. That will be the concern as we get into the day. This morning, the ongoing NNW bands, which are currently bringing heavy snow to areas west of I-75. However, don’t let the darker colors near Rogers City and Alpena escape notice. As the winds turn to the north, there will be some lake bands that will impact Northeast Lower. So don’t think that you won’t get something along US-23. Not as much snow is expected, but that doesn’t mean that the snow band won’t lower visibility and make the road slick quickly. Of course, don’t forget Eastern and Central Upper. Again, those snow bands coming off of Lake Superior will be there all day long, especially, along M-28. Since the snow bands will be more N flow or NNE flow you will get into one band, then out, so low visibility, then good, then bad, then good…and it is expected to be heavier the closer to Marquette.
Going downstate, US-31, I-196 from Hudsonville south, and I-94 west of Hartford will be the most impacted as the NNW and N flow bands will impact the Lake Michigan shore all day long. See this weather story from NWS Grand Rapids.
So far, NWS Detroit hasn’t put any headlines out, but they did put this into there Hazardous Weather Outlook:
COLD NORTHERLY FLOW OFF LAKE HURON IS EXPECTED TO GENERATE SNOW
SHOWERS TODAY OVER THE EASTERN THUMB REGION…TAPERING OFF
TONIGHT. ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES ARE EXPECTED…WITH AN
ISOLATED 4 INCH TOTAL NOT OUT THE QUESTION RIGHT ALONG THE LAKE
So watch the lake effect snow today while you’re travelling.