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How to Drive in Michigan’s Weather Conditions

Here's what you need to know...
  • There are many things to do and enjoy in the state of Michigan
  • They enjoy traditional seasons and a higher than average amount of precipitation each year along with snow and ice
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions and prepare by checking your car and your insurance before you go

Michigan is a great state to visit, and it holds many treasures that people enjoy and love to visit. However, the climate and weather in Michigan is somewhat unpredictable, and they have their fair share of inclement weather, especially during the winter months.

Michigan has fairly predictable seasons; the weather ranges from 23°F in January to 72°F in July.

There are shorter growing periods in the state of Michigan, and the extreme northern section of the state has an average snowfall accumulation of 183 inches per year. The Keweenaw Peninsula forms a snow belt that is predictable to some degree, but the weather can change without warning in some locations.

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How long do the seasons last?

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The seasons are somewhat predictable with the warm season lasting from May 27 to September 17. The warm season (spring and summer) sees an average daily high temperature above 73°F and the hottest day of the year is July 23, with a mean temperature of 84°F.

The cold season lasts from November 30 to March 8 with an average daily high temperature below 42°F. Temperatures are relatively consistent in Michigan but sometimes unseasonable weather does occur without warning.

Driving Tips for Bad Weather in Michigan


When driving in bad weather in Michigan, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to stay safe.

  • Prep Your Car
  • Get your car inspected/repaired
  • Stash an emergency kit

– What should you check?

Below are some of the things you should check before traveling in Michigan weather.

  • Headlights
  • Windshield wipers
  • Tires
  • Check fluids

– Things to Include in an Emergency Kit

  • Extra clothing and blankets for cold weather
  • Flashlights, batteries, and extra power for smart devices
  • Physical maps
  • Water and food
  • First Aid kit

Consider anything that pertains to the type of weather you may experience during the time you are traveling. You should also include emergency jumper cables for your car in case your car strands you on the road or your battery dies.

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What to Do in Certain Weather Conditions in Michigan

Weather conditions in Michigan can vary from icy or snow-covered roads to rain and other treacherous conditions.

When driving in icy or snowy conditions, drive slowly and take your time as you head toward your destination. It is best not to pull off the road unless it is necessary. Once you pull off the road, you are stranded.

– Snow or Icy Roads

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You can usually stay safe on snowy or icy roads as long as you take your time and the snow or ice is not too deep.

Deep snow can make you get stuck on the road or in a ditch while icy conditions can make you slide off the roads. You will want to avoid steep inclines or hills if at all possible.

To stay safe on the road, you should always be aware of changing weather conditions. Keep alert to changing temperatures when driving. Remember that the temperature only has to be 32 degrees to start freezing over the roads.

The basic idea of experts regarding traveling in icy or snowy road conditions is to stay on the road to your destination but to drive slowly.

If you turn too quickly, you may end up in a ditch or sliding off the road. If you feel yourself slipping, turn slowly in the direction of the turn, not the opposite way as this can send you into a tailspin.

Practice safe driving as you make your way to your destination and avoid going too fast or turning too abruptly.

– Extreme Cold


When driving in extreme weather conditions like extreme cold weather, you should always remember that the only thing between you and the outside elements is your car. That’s why it is so important to make sure your car is up to speed and protected from the winter elements and freezing temperatures.

Make sure that you have plenty of antifreeze for your car before traveling in freezing temperatures. Check your oil, wipers, and wiper fluid so that you will always be prepared for the unexpected.

If you find that your car has trouble starting or if you feel strange vibrations or other symptoms, you should refrain from driving your vehicle until it is safe to drive it again. If in doubt, get it checked out with a professional mechanic before traveling again.

– Rain or flooding

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With Michigan being a state that is prone to heavy rainfall and an average of 32.9 inches per year in Detroit alone, there is a good chance of encountering heavy rain and possible flooding while traveling in Michigan.

If you have to drive during a flood, remember that you should never cross roadways that have been flooded with rainfall. The rule is that six inches or more of water is dangerous and is capable of sweeping a car away. So turn around, don’t drown.

– Severe Wind

Severe winds can be a problem when driving too and can present a problem that often comes without warning. Drive slowly in heavy winds and pull off if you come across strong straight-line winds. Tall vehicles are especially prone to turning over due to high winds.

Heavy winds often come with heavy rainfall and storms or hail, so be alert for any of these conditions. Keeping your speed slow and consistent is the best thing you can do to stay safe in heavy winds.

– Tornadoes

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Tornadoes are the most dangerous weather conditions on earth, and they can occur from any thunderstorm. They tend to come from severe thunderstorms and include hail, heavy winds, and heavy rainfall.

You should keep a weather radio in your car to keep up with the latest changing weather conditions when driving in Michigan. They do not have a significant number of tornadoes during storm season, but they do occur occasionally.

If you are driving during a tornado warning, you should try to find out where you are about the location of the tornado and seek shelter in a sturdy building immediately.

If no sturdy building is available, you should find a ditch or the lowest lying area possible and lie flat on the ground. Make sure to cover your head to avoid being hit by flying objects.

What will aid you in bad weather?

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Two things will help you during bad weather while driving.

  • Comprehensive Auto Insurance – The best thing you can do to protect your vehicle and yourself before going on a trip is to purchase comprehensive auto insurance. This type of coverage will cover you for hail, flood, storm, or tornado damage if you encounter bad weather on the road.
  • Roadside AssistanceRoadside assistance is another good coverage you may want to add before traveling. It is a relatively inexpensive coverage that guarantees you will have help if you are stranded on the side of the road.

Having the right car insurance coverage before you’re ever in a serious situation is your best course of action, so consider whether there are any additional coverage types you would like to add to your current policy to ensure that you stay safe in all weather conditions.

You should also be sure to compare car insurance rates from at least two or three insurance companies every year so that you can see the advantages of each one and get the best policy for your needs. You want the best protection, but that’s no reason to be overcharged for coverage.

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