Wickedly cold weather encompassed the metro region Tuesday morning, plunging temperatures to a record 14 degrees below zero in Detroit while setting other records around the state.
The arctic chill broke Jan. 7’s old record of minus 5 set in Detroit in 1942, according to the National Weather Service, which is predicting a “high” temperature of 0 degrees on Tuesday.
Flint’s minus 14 in Tuesday broke its 10 below zero record from 1986. The Tri-Cities’ minus 11 smashed 1912’s minus 9.
“But there is hope,” said meteorologist Sara Schultz, working out of the weather service station in White Lake township. “Wednesday will see temperatures rise to about 15 degrees, and we’re looking at the return of near normal temperatures by the weekend.”
The normal high/low temperatures for this date is 32 and 20 degrees. The all-time low for Detroit was minus 24 degrees set on Dec. 24, 1872.
Following a monstrous snowstorm that dumped up to 16 inches, Metro Detroit residents continue to grapple with an arctic chill that has plunged temperatures to their lowest point in decades.
At 1 p.m., the subzero temperatures still touched most of Michigan. A few areas were above the 0 degree mark, including Grand Rapids at 7 degrees and Muskegon at 7 degrees. Much of the rest of the state, including Detroit at minus 3 degrees, remained in the negatives. Port Huron was minus 2 and Coldwater was minus 5.
A wind chill warning issued by the National Weather Service will remain in effect through Wednesday.
The National Weather Service also reported even the Upper Peninsula’s bitterly cold temperatures were fairly unusual for that part of the state.
Freezing winter temperatures and big snowfalls are common in the Upper Peninsula, but meteorologist Kevin Crupi, with the weather service’s Marquette-area office, says Monday’s low of 17 below zero tied the previous record low for Jan. 6 set in 1968.
The low reported Tuesday morning in Michigan was 20 degrees below zero in Ironwood, where Crupi says wind chill temperatures Monday came in as low as 55 degrees below zero. It’s 18 below zero in Iron Mountain and 15 below in Escanaba.
The Upper Peninsula is expected to see more lake-effect snow. In Alger County, 5 to 8 inches fell over 24 hours.
Motorists in Metro Detroit were facing icy conditions on roads with spinouts and crashes reported throughout Metro Detroit. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, Tuesday’s traffic crashes included one on westbound Interstate 696 at Dequindre that involved two vehicles and affected the right and right-center lanes. Another was a two-vehicle crash on eastbound I-94 at Mount Elliot involving two vehicles that closed the left lane. There were no reports of injuries.
The extreme cold also disrupted service Tuesday at Detroit’s People Mover.
“The People Mover has closed the system this morning until further notice due to extreme temperatures and the wind chill factor,” officials tweeted.
Blowing snow and icy roads were creating difficult driving conditions for other Michigan motorists as well, with another 1 to 3 inches of snow possible in the southwestern portion of the state.
Temperatures hovered Tuesday morning around zero degrees in Grand Rapids and were reported at 11 degrees below zero in Lansing. The National Weather Service says those readings weren’t record lows.
In Gaylord, the weather service office reported that readings as low as 18 degrees below zero in the northern Lower Peninsula didn’t set a record. Still, authorities are urging caution for those outdoors amid the deep freeze.
Meanwhile, DTE Energy Co. is asking its clients to try to cut back on unnecessary electrical use due to increased demands on its system.
“We are seeing an increase in use, but it’s no where near the peak demands we see during the hottest days of the summer,” said DTE spokeswoman Randi Berris. “We’re having no usual issues with our power lines and we have very few outages in the metro area. We’re just asking customers to try and cut down on non-essential electrical use to help protect the electrical system.”
Numerous schools, including Detroit Public Schools, Berkley and Utica, remained closed for a second day Tuesday. Citing “extreme wind chill temperatures and blowing snow,” Michigan State University canceled morning and afternoon classes Tuesday, following a rare shutdown Monday.
City Hall in Flint is closed to the public for a second day after the city got its third-heaviest snowfall on record.
Like many other places in the state, Flint is advising residents against unnecessary travel as severe cold and blowing snow persist. Crews and residents are working to dig out from 17.1 inches that fell since the weekend.
Officials plan to reopen City Hall to the public on Wednesday pending further evaluation of weather conditions.
On Tuesday morning, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging announced it would suspend delivering Meals on Wheels to seniors living in Highland Park, Detroit, Hamtramck and the five Grosse Pointes.
Cass Community United Methodist Church, which operates two shelters and a warming center, had taken in 30 people Monday night and expected more as the thermometer continued to drop.
“They don’t make reservations,” said the Rev. Faith Fowler.
Church volunteers have been working around the clock distributing hats and dispensing food and hot drinks. The warming center opens when temperatures drop below 10 degrees.
The life-threatening conditions sent people scurrying for shelter.
“It’s hard out there, this is like a really hard winter, it’s been really, really cold,” said Pamela Campbell, who is staying at Genesis House III, an emergency shelter for women and children operated by the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
At the Salvation Army MATTS (Macomb’s Answer to Temporary Shelter) in Warren, the lunch hour was extra busy, and Major Kevin Van Zee said the warming center would stay open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.
“When there’s a life-threatening situation like the weather right now, you do what you can to help people,” he said.
Sunday’s snowfall contributed to the deaths of three local residents, said authorities.
The snow also caused numerous fender-benders — including a U-Haul that plowed into a downtown Detroit post office on Monday — collapsed a former bar in Lake Orion on Sunday, delayed or canceled 100 flights at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and caused the pipes to burst in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice over the weekend.
A check of flight status at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Tuesday morning showed a number of cancellations for departing and arriving flights. Canceled departing flights included Chicago, Toronto and Rochester, N.Y. Canceled arriving flights included those from: Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Dayton, Pellston, Mich., Columbus, Ohio, Binghamton, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., Akron, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Newark, N.J., Allentown, Pa., Lexington, K.Y., and South Bend, Ind.
In other parts of the state, two other people died from weather-related accidents while an Amtrak train traveling from Pontiac to Chicago was delayed for eight hours because of engine problems caused by the snow.
The normal low for the date is 20 degrees.
It will remain bitterly cold Tuesday night with the low expected to be 3 degrees below zero, said Rachel Kulik, a meteorologist at the weather service station in White Lake Township.
The weather will eventually return to normal Friday with highs in the 30s, she said.
“We’re expecting wind speeds of up to 30 mph” Monday night, she said, “which will make the wind chill factor bottom out at about minus 40 degrees.”
In the weather-related deaths, which occurred Sunday, all three involved the shoveling of snow, said authorities.
The victims were a 36-year-old Detroit man, a 56-year-old Pontiac woman and a 67-year-old Orion Township man with a history of hypertension. Autopsies are pending on all three, said the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The William Beaumont Health Care System reported several weather-related cases at its emergency rooms in both Royal Oak and Troy.
“At our Royal Oak location, we treated two patients for slip and falls,” said hospital spokesman Bob Ortlieg. “At our Troy facility, we treated one slip-and-fall patient and one heart attack brought on by snow shoveling. That person survived.”
On the roads, the Michigan State Police post in Oak Park responded to 100 traffic crashes from midnight Saturday through Monday afternoon, it reported.
It also handled 95 other calls for service, including road runoffs, car assists and other traffic policing calls.
AAA Michigan, which called in extra staff, handled 2,200 calls from distressed drivers, said spokeswoman Nancy Cain.
Most of the calls handled by the agency’s trucks and roadside assistance vehicles dealt with spinouts, dead batteries and cars in ditches, she said.
“We are very, very busy,” she said Monday.
As for the city of Detroit, new Mayor Mike Duggan said he was pleased with its progress in clearing city streets.
Efforts by 40 city trucks and three contractors to clear 1,880 miles of residential streets were improving by the hour, Duggan said during a Monday afternoon press conference.
“I feel good about where we are,” he said.
The mayor also said garbage pickup, delayed by the weather the last few days, will continue at all hours this week, he said.
“Don’t be surprised if we’re picking up trash at 2 or 3 in the morning,” he said.
Gov. Rick Snyder activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center, allowing the state to respond more quickly to requests for assistance from local governments.
During a tour Monday of the state Department of Transportation operations center in Detroit, Snyder received an update on efforts to clear streets.
The governor, who came across an accident on his way from Lansing to Detroit, cautioned residents that driving conditions were still dangerous.
He encouraged residents not to dwell outside even as students frolicked in the elements during their snow day.
“This isn’t the day to have kids go outside and build a snowman,” he said.
The Metro Detroit communities heaviest hit by the snow were along the northern reaches of the region.
The towns with the most snowfall, and their amounts, were Howell, 15.9 inches; Waterford Township, 13.5 inches, and Romulus, 10.6 inches.
Jay McMillan can barely find words to describe the shock he is in.
The Ferndale resident spent five weeks traveling through Thailand and Vietnam, and returned a few days ago to face the snowstorm and cold snap that walloped the region.
“I was joking with friends that I hadn’t worn long pants or a long-sleeve shirt since before Thanksgiving,” said McMillan, 55. “I feel like a cocoon right now.”
Staff Writers Francis X. Donnelly, Tom Greenwood, Charles E. Ramirez, Kim Kozlowski, Mike Martindale, Jim Lynch, Ursula Watson, Darren A. Nichols, Candice Williams, Jennifer Chambers, Tony Briscoe and Shawn D. Lewis and the As contributed.