Learn to Expect the Unexpected in Michigan
If you’ve lived in the area for long, you understand West Michigan weather can cover all four seasons in one week. Michigan winters in particular can be a little brutal and unpredictable with the lake effect snow.
If you’re new to the area, it can be hard to know what to expect, how to stay warm, and if winter ever really ends. (It does! We promise!)
Places to Get Your Local Weather Forecast
I’ve spent most of my life here in West Michigan and there are still times when I’m not sure what to expect. There are several good sources that you can use to find out what weather the next day might bring.
WZZM 13 & The Weather Ball
A fun weather aide unique to Grand Rapids is the WZZM Weather Ball. This glowing globe is perched at the intersection of Interstate 96 and U.S. 131 and changes color as the forecast changes. To know what it means there’s a catchy tune for it.
We pass the weather ball several times a week and my preschooler always looks for it and reminds me what weather is coming. (You can even go on a weather field trip to WZZM and see the Weather Ball up close!)
The Weather Ball Song
13 Weatherball red, warmer ahead. 13 Weatherball blue, cooler in view. 13 Weatherball green, no change foreseen. Colors blinking bright, rain or snow in sight.
Wood TV 8 & School Closing Alerts
I’m partial to the morning weather on WOOD TV 8 and rely primarily on my iPhone weather app to get my daily weather reports. Many local news stations also offer school closing alerts, so you can get a quick text message to alert you to delays and closings for your kids.
GRKIDS Daily Newsletter
If you sign-up for the GRKIDS newsletter, you can also get a quick glimpse at tomorrow’s local weather–right in your inbox! (It also offers other interesting tidbits about local happenings.)
How to Dress for Success
Dressing your kids for the ever-changing weather is all about the layers! Loads of layers give your kids the options they need to maintain a comfortable temperature. It may be 30 degrees when they leave for school, and 60 degrees when the final bell rings. (Or visa versa!)
How Kids Dress for Winter Around Grand Rapids
Keeping your kids warm for a brief recess at school is primarily about staying dry. Waterproof snow pants and quality boots that will keep their toes dry will go a long way. A warm hat is a must as well! A large percentage of your body’s warmth can escape through your head.
Cute mittens are tempting, but ski mittens or other waterproof brands (like Kombi) will protect those pudgy fingers in the cold, and often wet, snow.
Once your children head off to school, it’s important to label everything. I love the pretty labels from Minted, but a permanent marker works just as well. There is nothing worse than losing just one mitten!
Staying warm for a day on the ski slopes or at the sledding hill will require more layers and a warmer jacket. You can see some of our top tips for staying warm on the slopes here.
So when does spring finally show up?! I find myself wondering the same thing by about mid-February. Unfortunately, Grand Rapids residents can still expect to see an average of six days of snow in March.
Winter can roll in as early as October (somehow snow always shows up on Halloween, so plan those costumes accordingly), and it usually doesn’t fully wrap up until March. We tend to have the most snowy days in January with some reprieve once February rolls around.
While the winter can seem long and keeping your kids warm is a lot of work–spring weather is on the way! I promise! It always shows up…eventually.
Kids Survive Spring With Rain Boots and Coats
March can still be a pretty soggy month here, so don’t put away those boots just yet! While rainboots can seem like an unnecessary purchase for your kids, we use ours all the time in the spring (and they are easier to get on and off than winter boots).
Families who want to get the most bang for their buck will buy Bogs Boots at places like V&A Bootery or Mieras Family Shoes. Bogs are a three season boot that are perfect for Michigan.
Rain coats also seem like an extravagant buy, but they are great for layering with a warm fleece underneath. It’s no fun walking out of school when it’s 35 and rainy and you are soaked to the bone.
Humid Summers are the Norm for The Great Lakes State
Summer may only be a couple of months long (warmest months are July and August, with June and September bookending a little), but it can pack a punch. And heat. And our favorite–humidity! Michiganders are so used to cloudy days that lots of kids get sunburns each year.
Sunscreen is a must and something you should keep in your car or purse at all times. Hats protect the head and sun shirts with UV protection are perfect for babies on up.
Fall is Like Summer and Winter Battling Over the Calendar
All you need to know about Fall is that it is glorious and can be any weather at any time. Sun, rain, wind, fog, humidity, snow. If you’re prepared for the other three Michigan seasons, you will be set for fall.