TRAVERSE CITY — Back-to-back snowstorms will cover the area in a thick, wintry blanket and make for a very, very white Christmas.
Today’s snowstorm will be matched by another that's set to begin Saturday night and continue through Sunday.
“We’ve got two storm systems, one moving into the Ohio Valley (this) afternoon and another one moving into the exact same path,” said Scott Rozanski, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord.
Lake-effect snow and colder temperatures will follow the weekend storms, Rozanski said. He expects between four and eight inches will fall between Saturday night and Monday morning.
Christmas Day likely will be a bit calmer, with scattered snow showers in the forecast, Rozanski said.
Temperatures should be in the mid-20s over the weekend. Monday will be colder with lows to minus 4 degrees, Rozanski said.
He expects temperatures to climb back to the 20s by Christmas Day.
Despite the heavy snow, road conditions shouldn't be terrible, at least compared to the recent stretch in which temperatures lagged in the low teens.
“What’s really positive is the temperatures will be above 20 degrees," said Jim Cook, manager of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission. "That means we can put salt down on the roads, which helps immensely.”
Salt lowers the melting temperature of ice, which allows it to turn into less dangerous water. But when temperatures slip below 20, salt loses its effectiveness.
“We’ve found we create more accidents if we start salting the roads when it’s below 20,” Cook said.
That’s why road commission workers spread a salt and dirt mixture during colder storms. Salt allows the dirt to sink into the snow and ice, creating traction for vehicles, Cook said.
Those who travel downstate this weekend likely will see a weather progression, Rozanski said. The Traverse City area will be snowy, but conditions will change into a wintry mix and perhaps freezing rain to the south.
"It'll make traveling tougher, no doubt," said Ron Popp, owner and CEO of Popp Excavating, a company that tackles snowplowing in the winter season. "When visiblility is down and you’ve got snow coming at you, that can make it difficult."