National Weather Service in Grand Rapids explains issuing a rare four-day Winter Storm Warning

Jan 30, 2019

National Weather Service
Credit National Weather Service

Life-threatening cold and a Winter Storm Warning are gripping West Michigan. For the latest on the cold and snow

WGVU spokes with National Weather Service meteorologist William Marino. With more than 40 years of forecasting how does he characterize the winter storm and the arctic cold associated with it? 

“This is extremely unusual. We have several of us, me being a climate person especially, have researched this issue. The last time we had something even remotely like this was in 1994.”

What took place back in 1994?

“A very similar event where we had a very large mass of unusually cold air come down into the central United States and it resulted in a fairy long period of unusually cold weather and it…it’s been a while since we’ve had air this cold.”

Is Marino surprised by issuing a Winter Storm warning that is four days in duration?

“That too is very unusual, okay. I mean, that is absolutely for sure. We very rarely we issue a warning like that. Normally when you have, I’m sure you realize, when we have a winter storm come through typically they last like 18 hours and so maybe you put the warning out for 24-36 hours because of the cold air and lake effect behind it. But for this particular situation where we did have a snow storm yesterday, there was a classic snowstorm, but then we have this cold air come in. Because the cold air, the way it’s coming in, isn’t just going to move out it’s going to be over us until Friday and it’s going to keep driving this lake effect snow, it is very unusual to have a warning out this long, absolutely unusual. I couldn’t honestly tell you the last time we had a warning that lasted this long.”

William Marino is National Weather Service meteorologist at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Patrick Center, WGVU News.