Metro Detroiters, don’t be fooled by the rising mercury.
Even though the National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the area will spike into the upper 20s today, another arctic blast is in the forecast. Another 6-12 inches of snow is also expected to drop on the area by Sunday night.
“We could see anywhere between 8-10 inches toward the Ohio border,” said Rachel Kulik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s station in White Lake Township. “We could see 7-9 inches in Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties. It’ll taper off as you go farther north.”
On Friday, the agency issued a winter storm watch that goes into effect from late tonight through late Sunday night and predicts some of the coldest temperatures in southeastern Michigan in about 20 years.
The warning comes on the heels of the cold snap that slammed southeastern Michigan on Tuesday and lingered until Thursday.
Metro Detroiters have been taking the frigid weather in stride.
“I worked in the cold for 20 some years, so I’m used to” it, Kenneth Ashby, 54, of Detroit, said Friday. “It’s not as cold as it was yesterday, it’s cold, but not real, real cold.”
But the area shouldn’t expect relief from the polar-like cold, even after the predicted snowstorm.
Cold air is expected to move over the area and force temperatures to plunge to zero Monday morning, according to the weather service.
Monday night, temperatures could fall to lows of 10-15 degrees below zero. On Tuesday, highs may only reach zero and then drop below zero at night.
The weather service also warns wind chills could plummet to “dangerous” levels: 20 degrees below zero by Monday and then ranging from 20-40 degrees below zero Monday evening into Tuesday night.
“We have much colder temperatures coming in on Monday and Tuesday due to cold air from Siberia crossing the North Pole and coming straight down over the Great Lakes,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Gurney.
Temperatures may warm up slightly later in the week.
After cleaning up anywhere from 5-8 inches of the white stuff, snow removal crews are gearing up for another round.
“The challenge is going to be figuring out how to have people able to work for another three or four days on top of the four of five days they’re just finishing up,” said Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County.
Bryson said crews were going to work to remove snow until about 7 p.m. Friday, go home to rest and return from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and “try to get as much cleaned as possible.” Crews will then return in the evening and likely work around the clock at least half-way through the week, he said.
Officials at Detroit Metro Airport are monitoring the weather and ready to spring into action.
“Our maintenance folks will be tracking the storm,” said Michael Conway, a Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman. “And they go from working 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts automatically whenever there’s a snowstorm.”
The airport has 9 specially-equipped trucks that can simultaneously plow, broom and blow snow off runways, Conway said. Working in tandem, the vehicles can clear off a runway in a little over 40 minutes.
City officials have also been busy putting together game plans for dealing with the latest wintry onslaught.
Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey said city workers expect to finish cleaning up after the most recent snowstorm by midday today and will be ready to tackle the next one.
“We’ve got our roads in very good shape from the last storm,” he said. “By 3 a.m. Sunday, we’ll start the plowing again and go for about 48 hours.”
The city has 20 snowplow trucks and 40 workers will be putting in 12-hour shifts to keep them running around the clock, he said. The city is responsible for removing snow from more than 370 miles of pavement, Kirksey said.
Some schools were already in session last week and students at dozens of them didn’t have class Friday because of the frigid temperatures. And while many students are scheduled to return to school Monday from Christmas break, school districts usually don’t decide on whether to declare a snow day until hours before classes are scheduled to start.
In addition, cold temperatures also mean greater potential for water main breaks.
“Especially when the temperature rises and you get the whole freeze-thaw thing,” said Mary Alfonso, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
She said the recent cold blast hadn’t resulted in any more water main breaks than usual. However, she wanted to remind customers the utility has a 24-hour emergency telephone line — (313) 267-7401 — to report problems with water service.
And while the snow and sub-zero temperatures can be a challenge, they’re not much of a shock to Metro Detroiters.
Take Jack Metas, 41, of Lincoln Park, for example. He waited patiently in his SUV for his sister to arrive at the Detroit Amtrak station.
“I was born and raised in Michigan; this is no surprise,” Metas said. “Actually, if we have a mild winter, it’s surprising.”