Winter storm hits from west

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jesse Latvala of Michigan Technological University plows some of Tuesday morning’s new snow. Between 8 to 12 inches of snow are expected to fall on the Keweenaw over the next two days.

HOUGHTON — The storm hitting the Keweenaw this week could rival late October’s in intensity, if not impact, according to a National Weather Service forecaster.

As temperatures dropped Tuesday, by early morning rain had turned into sleet and snow, which could eventually result in an accumulation between 8 and 12 inches over the next couple of days, said Don Rolfson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Negaunee.

The rapid change in weather is attributed to a low-pressure system moving across the central U.S. this week, forcing Arctic air south for the next couple of weeks.

“It’s going to start with a big storm system that’s ramping up and moving up just west of the Keweenaw and up into Hudson Bay,” Rolfson said.

The storm began with heavy rain overnight into Tuesday morning. With the addition of wind, the winter storm became more severe, Rolfson said. Winds could gust up to 60 mph Tuesday morning. Numerous police-radio calls involving hazardous driving conditions were being reported by mid-morning.

“I know it’s been pretty windy the past couple of weeks, but it’ll probably bring down some tree limbs,” Rolfson said of this storm. “There’ll probably be some power outages, too.”

The lake-effect snow will go on for several days, Rolfson said. As the temperature drops, the snow will become drier and more likely to blow around.

“There will probably be whiteout conditions at times in areas where the snow can blow around easily,” Rolfson said.

Much of the damage from October’s storm was due to the north wind, which impacted most of the lakeshore counties in the western and central Upper Peninsula.

The west wind late Tuesday night through Wednesday will have its greatest impact at places such as McLain State Park and Eagle Harbor, located on the western shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula

The weather takes place after a spell of warm, snowless days with temperatures rising into the 50s. That’s not unusual for early December, Rolfson said.

“It wasn’t abnormally warm,” he said. “Much of November was so cold. It probably felt a little warmer, because it was so cold for a while.”