The fringe of a winter storm centered in Ohio was expected to dump 4 to 7 inches of snow on the region by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service forecaster Matt Mosteiko.
With the heaviest snowfall expected during the Wednesday evening rush hour, Mosteiko said the best news was that many people were on Christmas-New Year's holiday vacations and weren't in a rush to get anywhere.
The heaviest accumulations were likely in the lake-effect zone along Lake St. Clair, Mosteiko said.
By early Wednesday evening, 4 inches of snow was on the ground in Ann Arbor and nearly 4 inches at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, which also had winds gusting to 33 mph. At least 15 flights were canceled, while delays of up to 30 minutes were being reported. The airport said a total of 189 flights were affected.
Temperatures were just below freezing across much of the state.
At an Aco Hardware store in Southfield, instead of the usual day-after-Christmas gift exchange rush, people were stocking up for the storm, assistant manager Chris Mokrzycki said.
"It's been quite a blast — tons of customers," Mokrzycki said. "We've already sold a pallet of ice melter. This is the first time we're finally seeing the snow supplies flying off the shelves."
At a Dunkin' Donuts in nearby Oak Park, retiree Ernie Marable cradled a hot drink after gassing up his snow blower. Marable, 65, said he didn't put much stock in the snowfall forecasts and said he was preparing for the worst.
"When they say 4-8 inches, it could be 2 feet," he said. "I didn't even hear the amount of inches. I just heard 'snowstorm.'"
The lightly populated Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula got their first big seasonal storm last week, with some areas getting up to 20 inches of snow.
Modest snowfall across lower Michigan was enough to snarl traffic and cause dozens of accidents on Christmas Eve.