Warmer weather on the not-too-distant horizon, rain and snow melt could cause flooding

There are louder and louder signs that our very persistent cold weather pattern will FINALLY be changing next week. During the week of February 17-23, instead of the same old steering pattern that brings our air down from the arctic, an active jet stream will be plowing into the Pacific northwest coast.

This will bring welcome rain and snow to that part of the country and will allow milder maritime Pacific air into the Midwest, including metro Detroit. Temperatures toward the end of this time period could be warmer than we've seen in months.

Now that you've had a moment to jump up and down and think about mothballing your heavy winter coat, it's time for me to be a buzz-killer. 

The snow-pack on the ground around here has the equivalent of about five inches of rain in it. One of our longer term models shows high temperatures into the 50s sometime around Saturday Feb. 22, and there are hints that this could come along with rain, some of it possibly even heavy.

This could bring significant flooding issues to our area if it plays out as warm and as wet as it looks now.

Since this is a long range outlook, we can assure you that the forecast WILL change. I wouldn't focus so much on the specifics as the general trend and the timing.

While the First Alert Weather Team uses the next several days to fine-tune the outlook for this major pattern change, you might want to consider clearing storm drains that could be blocked by winter's debris. Waterproofing and/or moving things around in your basement also might be a good use of time while it's still cold and frozen.

Before this warm-up happens, there will likely be more accumulating snow and very cold weather. And even if the big warm-up plays out largely as expected next week, there's no guarantee that we won't go back to the pattern that has dominated most of the time all the way back to December.

In short, we're not finished with the cold and snow, but an intermission in the relentless winter could come around George Washington's birthday on February 22. I cannot tell a lie; it could get really messy around here.

Follow Chris Edwards on Twitter at twitter.com/edwardswxwxyz

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