West Michigan to experience temperature "whiplash"

Feb 1, 2019

National Weather Service
Credit National Weather Service

The Polar Vortex is retreating northward ushering in warmer temperatures from the southwest. The abrupt weekend warm-up is a dramatic swing of as much as 80 degrees in some parts of the Great Lakes region. WGVU spoke with a National Weather Service meteorologist about what’s behind the abrupt temperature shift.

The National Weather Service at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport tells us the arctic air mass begins moving out of Michigan late Saturday morning. Daytime temperatures will rise above freezing.

Meteorologist Cort Scholten says temperatures will climb into the 40s and perhaps 50s Sunday and Monday. Factor in wind chills and the temperature swing can be as much as 60, 70 or 80-degrees in some locations.

“Part of the whiplash comes from the fact that what we just experienced was likely the coldest air mass to invade Michigan since 1994.”

Grand Rapids weather records from that January deep-freeze reveal temperatures only recovered into the mid-30s before dropping once again.

“It is quite significant, but not terribly unprecedented. Usually the pattern across the hemisphere that creates these extreme arctic outbreaks over the Great Lakes they in turn also create very warm weather over the western United States and when that pattern sort of breaks down we do kind of get that warmer weather from the western United States washing over us fairly quickly after the arctic air moves out. That happens every once in a while and it will happen this weekend.”

A rapid thaw brought on by a warm, moist air mass. Expect winds from out of the southwest gusting over 20 mph.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.