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Most of Michigan facing a new winter storm warning. Will schools close Friday?

snow covered cars
Friday may be the first, second or even third snow day of the season for many school districts as another storm system is expected to bring significant snowfall and strong wind gusts, creating blizzard-like conditions. (Shutterstock)
  • Some districts are preparing for potential closures Friday as the state is hit with another storm 
  • This week’s snow days are the first of the season for many across the state 
  • Several school districts were closed Tuesday and some Wednesday due to a severe winter storm earlier in the week

Jan. 17: Snow days pile up for Michigan schools. Which districts have the most?
Jan. 15: Michigan school closings: how superintendents make decisions on snow days

As another, more severe winter storm system heads toward Michigan, school superintendents are watching and preparing for possible school closings again this week. 

While Tuesday’s storm was the first real system to bring significant snowfall of the season, meteorologists have suggested that the upcoming winter storm will be worse, with blizzard like conditions in some areas.


The storm will move over the region starting Friday morning but won’t impact the morning commute. Meteorologists suggest traveling before the afternoon, when wind gusts will pick up creating blizzard conditions. The storm is expected to calm by Saturday, but places like Lake Michigan are expected to have additional lake-effect snow Saturday. 


In west Michigan, snowfall totals are projected to be between 4 and 8 inches between Friday and Saturday. Central Michigan could get up to 14 inches with wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph. 

“What makes me a little nervous is it still looks like Friday is not going to be a great day either, so we may have three of them this week after having none all year,” said Brett Zuver superintendent for Grant Public Schools, about 30 minutes east of Muskegon

Some districts may have to cancel school on Friday, for the second or third snow day in some cases

“The most important thing for us always is student and staff safety,” Zuver said. “We also have a large percentage of students at our high school that drive … and then you think about students waiting outside in the morning for buses,” which are all considered before closing school, he added. 

Several school districts across the state were closed Tuesday and some still Wednesday following a severe winter storm Monday night and into Tuesday that brought winds up to 30 mph and several inches of snow. 

Grant Public Schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, along with schools in Hamilton, Ostego, Saugatuck, Bloomingdale and Greenville. 

West Michigan had up to 8 inches of snow that caused slippery road conditions and power outages across the region. Meanwhile, Southeast Michigan received less than an inch of snow but lots of rainfall. 

The need to close schools comes later in the season for some superintendents who haven’t had to close school yet this year. 

Pennfield Schools, outside of Battle Creek, were closed Tuesday for the first time this school year. Superintendent Stephanie Lemmer said typically between January and February there are a lot of storms that cause a snow day.

“The least favorite part of my job is calling snow days …because you never know unless it's pretty clear cut,” Lemmer said. “I either get an email here or there thanking me for looking out for the students and giving me some reassurance that I made the right call, or I get the call [that]  I called it too late and I've inconvenienced the parents.”


In recent years, some superintendents said they haven’t had to use as many as six snow days, which are allotted to districts by the state. 

“We've never gone over our days. We have come close, in some buildings, to the six days,” said Richard Machesky, superintendent for Troy Public Schools. “It's never been entirely because of weather. It's typically been because of some weather related incidents.” 

Residents in the metro area may see up to 4 inches of snow between Friday and Saturday with wind gusts between 40 and 45 mph.  

“Our goal is to have kids in school,” Machesky said. “Their parents and our community relies upon us to be open and have our kids in school.”

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