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Update On West Michigan Severe Weather Threat For Tuesday


West Michigan Weather forecasters have been tracking the potential for severe weather on Tuesday for almost 2 weeks now and the specific details on said forecast are coming into much better view now that we are within 3 days of the event.

Generally speaking, the threat of severe weather on Tuesday appears lower than it has the past few days and we'll discuss why in our forecast discussion below.


The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has placed areas south of a line extending from Holland to Detroit under a Marginal Risk (level 1/5) for severe weather on Tuesday.

Previously, it appeared that the system that is prompting the aforementioned risk had the potential to bring a more robust/widespread severe weather threat to the area. However, several forecast factors are acting to limit the severity of this event and its attendant outlook risk level.

When we break down each Severe Weather Outlook risk category we look at 4 primary forecast elements, shown in the grey box on the graphic above:

  1. The expected geographic coverage of severe storms.

  2. The expected duration of severe storms or threat thereof.

  3. The overall confidence in the most likely outcome actually occurring.

  4. The intensity of severe storms.

For this particular event, as I already mentioned, there are several of these elements that are acting to preclude the introduction of a higher risk level. Primarily, the confidence of this forecast is still widely uncertain - which is normal for three days out, however, the confidence in rain occurring during the morning to late morning hours on Tuesday is rather high... and that leads us to the other forecast element that is acting to hamper this event; Intensity of Storms.

Severe thunderstorms, especially intense/significant severe thunderstorms, need energy to develop, intensify, and sustain themselves. Morning and/or prefrontal rain showers often act to tap into that energy and exhaust it and/or prevent that energy from developing/redeveloping in the atmosphere ahead of the stronger system that has the potential to bring severe weather. This will certainly be a limiting factor on Tuesday as computer weather model guidance is beginning to focus on a solution that brings rain showers through the region in the late morning hours.

As of writing, it remains possible that isolated to widely scattered strong to locally severe thunderstorms will move through the region on Tuesday afternoon into the evening hours, primarily along and south of the I-196 corridor.

All that having been said, we are still 3 days out, and as our messaging has been the last several days; we need to be vigilant, monitor the latest forecast, and stay tuned for updates. There is still plenty of time for the forecast to change... for the better or the worse, so being aware of the potential for severe weather and monitoring the latest forecast will be important, especially for Michiganders already under a threat for severe weather.

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