Southeast Michigan winter storm snowfall will be wet and heavy

All the rain that fell Thursday morning is indicative of another hazard that could be a problem for Southeast Michigan once the snow falls: the weight.

The snow that residents will be shoveling on their sidewalks and driveways on Friday will likely be wet and heavy. Up to eight inches are expected to fall in parts of Metro Detroit by Feb. 18.

Storms that have heavier and wetter snow are more common in the early and later stages of winter due to the warmer air temperature near the surface. Since temperatures started out in the 40s Thursday morning, that could be a factor in the latest winter storm.

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Since there's less cold air involved during storms with wetter snow, the flakes that fall tend to melt partially before reaching the ground, according to The Weather Channel

"Heavy, wet snow has a low snow-to-liquid ratio, as low as 5-to-1, meaning for every 5 inches of snow, there is a 1-inch liquid equivalent." But winter storms that happen when temperatures are in the 20s and teens typically have a snow-to-liquid ratio closer to 10-1.

And all that moisture adds up to heavy lifting for shovelers. It's sometimes referred to as ‘heart-attack snow’ since digging out all that water can put strain on the body.

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The city of Dearborn has set up a program that employs high school students to shovel sidewalks and driveways that senior homeowners can't do.  

Heavy snow also poses a hazard to homes since it can weigh down on roofs.