Detroit weather: Snow expected Friday, how Lake Erie water temperatures will impact totals

Another strong Winter Storm will impact the midwest starting Friday through Saturday and this time it'll likely be different for us. 

But it could also be some of the same. Let me explain.

We know there was some disappointment among winter weather fans with Tuesday's snow event that was just a whole day of rain. Unfortunately, it could happen again.

Friday's storm system will bring winter weather to Michigan again, but this time snow totals look higher. However, a similar storm trajectory could once again bring some milder air into the mix at times, which would mean some rain mixing in with the snow.

Friday's system, like Tuesday's system, will begin in the Pacific Northwest, travel over the Rockies and then eject towards Michigan. But as the winds wrap around the center of the low in a counterclockwise direction, the wind direction will come out of the southeast. 

With lake temperatures in Lake Erie currently between 37 and 39 degrees, this would produce some pockets of warmer air over eastside locations down to Monroe County. It's the same setup we had on Tuesday which brought us rain instead of snow. We need to watch this detail closely.

When will the snow start?

That aside, the snow will likely begin Friday afternoon and continue to fall through Friday evening and night. The window for warmer air, (and thus a mix of rain) begins to push in late Friday night and would reduce accumulation and push the snowpack down. 

Colder Saturday morning temperatures would mean a few more hours of snow before transitioning to lake-effect flurries for the remainder of the day.

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How much snow will we get?

That depends on the detail above with the warmer temps from Lake Erie.

It does look like we will be shoveling some snow Saturday - but the question of how much snow depends on this question first: how much rain do we get? If we apply the lessons from Tuesday, the warmer air will mean lower snow totals for spots in Metro Detroit and higher totals west and north of the city.  Mid and Northern Michigan are again looking at impressive double-digit snow totals!

A blast of cold polar air arrives Sunday morning and sticks around through most of next week. We can't avoid winter forever.