Late winter storm and wind to batter area with cold weather following suit

A nasty combination of freezing rain, sleet, and strong wind will pass across the area Thursday into early Friday.

While the recent sun and milder temps. have given some hope for spring, we will be heading in the opposite direction as a messy storm will sweep back in chilly weather this weekend into next week.

A big late winter storm is taking aim on the Great Lakes Thursday. Low pressure will rapidly strengthen and cross just east of the area later Thursday across Wisconsin into the Central Upper Peninsula. Ahead of this, temperatures across Northern Michigan for most areas will climb above the freezing mark with mid/upper-30's forecasted. Gradually, precipitation will lift in although it will be kind of a slow process. Locations along/south of a line from Charlevoix-Alpena may see a light mix of snow/sleet/freezing rain late Thursday morning into the afternoon hours. I believe that north of there, skies will remain overcast with dry weather hanging on until evening.

Eventually after the sun goes down, freezing rain and sleet will grind northward across all of Northern Michigan coating area roads with some ice leading to rough travel. Along with the icy roads, the wind will rapidly pick up this evening (especially after 3 p.m.) from the east with gusts to 45 mph possible as low pressure deepens to our west.

Roads will remain icy Thursday night with continued strong winds that will turn southerly and by Friday morning, southwesterly. Temperatures will fall just enough late Thursday night to switch over any remaining freezing rain/rain back over completely to all snow. Area roads will be in very bad shape Friday morning as freezing rain from the night before, temperatures only in the 20's, and a coating of snow on top will set the stage for a tough travel day for those heading into work or school Friday. The wind will remain unrelenting Friday with gusts topping out near 50 mph in places. In fact, this could even allow for sporadic power outages with any icing and the strong winds. Occasional snow/blowing snow Friday will diminish Friday night.

Thereafter, we return back to what much of this winter has been, unusually cold. Daytime highs Sunday through next Wednesday will tumble all the way down into the teens with a high of only 12F forecasted next Wednesday, almost 20F below normal for late February.