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Parts of Southeast Michigan saw upwards of 11 inches of snow on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022. This system started off as rain before changing over to all snow. Rain slowly changed over to snow during the early morning hours, however, the transition took a bit longer across portions of Metro Detroit. Some areas of Southeast Michigan only saw a 2-3 inches of snow, whereas portions of the Flint area has close to a foot of snow.

A detailed discussion explaining the challenges of this event are below. (Taken from the Area Forecast Discussion, AFD, on Feb 2 at 7:44PM)

This system did not lack moisture. The 12Z Wed DTX sounding had a precipitable water value of 0.67 inches, quite high for early February and had a deep layer of saturation. With the extended outage of the KDTX radar, many radar composites today have given the impression that the returns were weakening as they entered Se Mi. That was not the case as the composites simply had no returns over much of Se Mi due to the radar outage.

There was a rather robust upper jet response today which triggered deep layer frontal ascent across the baroclinic zone across Se Mi. These types of systems can lead to a tremendous variability in snowfall amounts across a relatively short distance, which occurred in this event. The upper jet forcing was perhaps a little farther north than earlier model solutions suggested and the surface wave across the Ohio Valley was a bit stronger. This likely contributed to the better system relative isentropic ascent setting up farther north and west this morning. Once these elevated frontal circulations develop, they often become rather persistent. So the axis of heaviest snow set up from SW Lower Mi into the Lansing/Owosso/Flint/Saginaw/Caro regions and held through the entire day. This region was also colder and transitioned to snow earlier, so liquid snow ratios were higher. Larger flake size may have also contributed to this. Reports from this region are suggestive of snow totals in the 10 to 12 inch range, with some locally higher amounts certainly possible.

The stronger sfc reflection in the Ohio Valley also helped slow the sfc cold front across Se Mi. This kept the eastern portions of the area, from Adrian up through metro Detroit and Port Huron warmer today. The Tues evening DTX sounding suggested the warm layer was deeper and more pronounced than many model solutions suggested. This delayed the transition from rain to snow by several hours. Even when the rain did transition to snow, lingering boundary layer warmth contributed to a lot of melting/compaction through much of the day. Observations here at the NWS office in White Lake also suggested a lack of good dendrites through much of the event, which also contributed greatly to lower snowfall totals.


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