A major storm is taking aim on Upper Michigan late this work week. It will produce heavy, wet snow as well as freezing rain and sleet in some parts of Upper Michigan.
The system is just in its development stages as the main energy moves through the inter-mountain region toward the southern and central High Plains. A Tornado Watch is already posted for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma early tonight. That??s a sign that the storm has lots of moisture to work with along with a strong temperature contrast.
The low should be near Wichita, Kansas tomorrow morning. It will then work up to northeast Missouri by evening. A major severe weather outbreak is likely to its east in the warm sector tomorrow into tomorrow night. In the cold sector to the northwest of the storm, snow will develop late tonight into Thursday and then spread northeastward. Light snow should develop over western and southern sections of the U.P. Thursday afternoon, but the main show is expected to set in Thursday night.
As the low lifts northeastward toward the western Great Lakes, a band of heavy snow is likely from eastern Minnesota into the western and central U.P. A warm layer of air aloft is expected to develop over eastern and southern sections of Upper Michigan during Thursday night, which will continue to hold into Friday morning. That means that snow will mix with and even change to sleet and possible freezing rain, limiting snow accumulations.
The National Weather Service office near Negaunee is confident enough that this storm will produce heavy snow over the western half of the U.P. late Thursday night into Friday so that a Winter Storm Warning is posted. A Watch still remains in effect for the east and far southern U.P. due to uncertainty when the mixed precipitation will change over to all snow and thus, how much snow will fall.
Where all snow falls, 6 to 12 inches of snow will is likely. In the high country of the west and north-central amounts in excess of a foot are expected. The least snow should fall to the south in southeastern Iron into Dickinson Counties where the mixture will occur.
Ironically, this storm will occur 40 years to the day that another major storm brought heavy snow to western Upper Michigan. It was the biggest storm of the year in the Marquette area during the winter of 1973-74. In the warm sector of the system, the greatest tornado swarm in history occurred. The Super Outbreak of 1974 produced 148 tornadoes in 16 hours over the Midwest and South. This storm will not likely match the tornado production of the storm 40 years ago, but the severe weather season will get going in a big way with this system.